5:00 AM UTC
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5:00 AM UTC
Game Details

Pep Guardiola's shaky start as McNair own goal saves Manchester City

MANCHESTER, England -- Three points from Manchester City 2-1 Sunderland on the opening day of the Premier League season.

Manchester CityManchester City
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1. Pep Guardiola makes a shaky start

It took Sergio Aguero's penalty and Paddy McNair's 87th minute own goal to get Manchester City over the line against Sunderland on Saturday night and Pep Guardiola punched the air with relief as his era got off to a winning start -- just.

It's only one game into the new regime, but he will be under no illusions regarding the task he faces. He has plenty to refine if he is to get anywhere near the breathtaking football he achieved at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

If there were any question marks over Guardiola's appointment, it was always going revolve around his style and whether it was suited to the Premier League. And he got an early indication of what he will face in England as he came up against a typically stubborn Sunderland.

There was plenty to be encouraged about in his first game -- not least his side's total dominance. They finished with 77 percent possession, completing 578 passes compared to Sunderland's 102. But they struggled to convert that possession into chances, despite an incredibly attacking lineup that included Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Nolito, Raheem Sterling and David Silva.

Guardiola said ahead of the game that he needed to time to work on City's creativity and they struggled to break down a wall of red and white defenders. He also demanded they showed "soul" and he got that, with his side pushing until the final three minutes before getting a lucky breakthrough.

He couldn't have asked for a better start when a reinvigorated Sterling was brought down by Patrick van Aanholt for a third-minute penalty that Aguero finished. But his rookie defence was carved open in the 71st minute for Defoe to steer in an equaliser before McNair headed into his own net for a cruel winner.

John Stones had looked solid on his debut but was drawn to the ball for Defoe's strike, and City will need to keep the back door shut as more sides come to the Etihad only to counterattack.

But despite the teething trouble, Guardiola claimed the three points and City delivered the passion he demanded.

Sergio Aguero scored the opener as Manchester City edged past Sunderland.

2. City's boss gets ruthless

Guardiola ditched Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto'o during his spell in charge of Barcelona and judging by his first team selection, there could be some high-profile casualties before the transfer window shuts on Aug. 31.

England keeper Joe Hart must be the most concerned after being left on the bench for reserve keeper Willy Caballero amid reports of interest in Barca's Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Guardiola wants his keeper to be comfortable with the ball at his feet, and it's an area where Hart isn't very strong. But it's questionable how much better Caballero is. He gave away the ball on several occasions although his charge out of goal midway through the first half was reminiscent of Guardiola's sweeper-keeper Manuel Neuer at Bayern Munich.

Elsewhere, Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony were left out the 18-man squad altogether despite being passed fit to play while full-back Aleksandar Kolarov started at centre-half with Nicolas Otamendi on the bench and Jason Denayer and Eliaquim Mangala missing.

After the charm offensive of preseason -- meeting the fans and being interviewed by former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher -- Guardiola showed his ruthless side.

Joe Hart was dropped to the bench in favour of Willy Cabellero.

3. Positives for Moyes despite defeat

The home fans did not let Moyes forget his woeful spell in charge of Manchester United from 2013-14, welcoming him with a sarcastic rendition of "David Moyes is a football genius".

At the Etihad, he typically set up his side up to stifle the City attack and he tried to catch the home side's new-look defence on the counter. It looked like it would be one-way traffic after Aguero's early goal but Moyes' side regrouped and restricted a forward-heavy team to few chances, which will give him plenty of encouragement.

Lamine Kone was solid at the heart of Sunderland's defence and while Moyes will want to sign more players before the transfer window closes, he must also convince the France-born Ivory Coast international to remain at the club.

Moyes took over at short notice after Sam Allardyce's appointment as England boss and he could have had an easier to start to his Stadium of Light career.

While he almost pinched a point, next week's match at home with newly promoted Middlesbrough will give him a better impression of where his side is at.

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.


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