Roberto Mancini’s outfit tasted similar disappointment to their local rivals, who were defeated by Blackburn on Saturday, and both sides remain on 45 points at the top, whilst the Black Cats rise above Fulham and Swansea to 13th place.
The opening 45 minutes saw a handful of chances, with the majority in the Sunderland third. However, it was the hosts that could have taken the lead inside three minutes if Nicklas Bendtner hadn’t taken the ball too far when one-on-one with Joe Hart and timidly poked his shot into the keeper’s chest.
Bendtner’s miss was the only real goal action of the opening 20 minutes, as the game lacked flow largely down to the amount of petty foul committed by the two sides.
Martin O’Neil’s injury woes in defence looked to be increasing to epidemic levels, as Wes Brown was forced to depart from the game on 26 minutes thanks to a groin problem and was replaced by former Leeds United man Matt Kilgallon.
Half an hour into the game and City were handed their best opportunity of the match, with Dzeko getting on the end of a low ball aimed towards goal, but Mignolet made himself big enough to repel the toe poke. The Bosnian had a second effort moments later, this time the woodwork saving Sunderland after the striker’s half-volley clipped the bar and into the stand behind.
The restart saw Mancini seek further firepower in his side and so brought on Sergio Aguero in place of Nigel De Jong to aid Dzeko up top.
The Argentine saw his first action in front of goal after Dzeko tapped the ball into his feet inside the Black Cats’ area, but Mignolet was prepared and kept out the striker’s effort. The hosts would have been angered if Aguero had converted his opportunity, with referee Kevin Friend overlooking a blatant foul on Sessegnon in the build-up.
The Benin midfielder soon had the Sunderland fans on their feet in hope, with the 27-year-old successfully taking on Vincent Kompany during a dash into the box and pushed the ball with the outside of his foot, but the shot didn’t curl enough and bent round the wrong side of the post.
City dominated for much of the remainder of the game, but struggled to conjure much in the way of solid chances. Substitute Micah Richards did have one opportunity to win the game for the visitors, but his header from close range could only hit the bar.
The defender’s miss was City’s demise in the end, with Ji finishing off a cunning counterattack by Sunderland, rounding Hart and tapping the ball into an empty net before wheeling off in celebration.