A PAIR of stunning free-kicks handed Manchester City a resounding free kick at the expense of Sunderland in the day’s early kick off.
Aleksandr Kolarov got the scoring underway before fruther goals from Sergio Aguero and James Milner as City recorded their first clean sheet of the season.
Sunderland made just one change, Carlos Cuellar replacing Titus Bramble at centre-back after recovering from injury.
Roberto Mancini made seven changes to his side following Manchester Ciy’s midweek exertions in the Champions League. Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, Kolarov, James Milner, Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli coming in for Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy, Javi Garcia, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko.
Sunderland got off on the wrong foot, Cuellar hauling down Tevez out on the left hand side of the penalty area, earning a booking for his troubles.
After a brief debate between the free-kick committee of Balotelli and Kolarov, the Serbian stepped up to curl beyond the wall and beat Simon Mignolet at the near-post.
Sunderland created a chance of their own shortly after, Stephane Sessegnon sending a dipping volley narrowly over the bar.
The Belgian ‘keeper atoned for his error on the goal not long after, blocking Zabaleta’s near-post shot before Tevez drilled back across, neither Zabaleta or Balotelli able to connect.
Craig Gardner did well to deny Balotelli in the 29th minute, blocking Milner’s low centre from the right for a corner.
It took just three second-half minutes for Sunderland to create the first chance of the half, Seb Larsson stealing possession from Barry before floating in a cross for Steven Fletcher to volley against a City defender.
The Citizens roared back into the Black Cats’s half, Yaya Toure stinging the palms of Mignolet with a fierce drive.
From the resulting corner Richards was denied, first by Jack Colback, then by Danny Rose heading off the line.
As the game came to life, Sessegnon floated a cross onto the head of Fletcher who powered a header toward the bottom corner, Joe Hart pulling of an excellent save before the flag was raised for offside.
Richards again came close when he powered a header goalwards from a corner, Mignolet denying the England international with a flying catch.
Just before the hour it was 2-0, substitute Aguero meeting Kolarov’s cross and prodding into the top corner on the run.
With just over 20 minutes left, Tevez collected Aguero`s pass before dragging a low right-footed effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Almost immediately after, Silva could have added a third when he floated a left-footed effort onto the face of the cross bar with Mignolet back peddling.
With two minutes left to play, City put some gloss on the scoreline, Milner curling a free kick past Mignolet from a tight angle on the left-hand edge of the 18 yard box.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Richards, Lescott, Kolaraov; Milner, Barry; Silva (Rodwell), Y. Toure (c), Balotelli (Aguero); Tevez (Clichy).
Subs not used: K. Toure, Nasri, Dzeko & Pantilimon (GK).
Subs not used: Kilgallon, Meyler, Bramble & Westwood (GK).
Attendance: 47 306
Referee: Mr L Probert.