Sunderland, U.S. youngster Lynden Gooch show grit in Man City defeat
Editor's note: The originally-published version of this blog stated that Lynden Gooch is the son of former England cricket captain Graham Gooch. This is not the case and a correction has been made accordingly.
David Moyes began competitive life as a Sunderland manager on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City that felt unjust and unnecessary after his side overcame a bad start to claw their way back into the game. Jermain Defoe yet again showed his class and appetite for goals with a clinical equaliser that seemed likely to win Sunderland a point until Paddy McNair's own goal minutes after the former Manchester United man was sent on as a late substitute.
A narrow defeat to a title-chasing City, one that has been massively strengthened in the early stages of Pep Guardiola's reign, was no disgrace. Meanwhile Moyes, still shaping his squad with a much more limited budget, will have seen enough to be left upbeat about the season ahead.
Sunderland teams of recent seasons would have crumbled after going one down in under four minutes at the Etihad. A creditable team effort denied City the scoring spree that might have followed and a much improved display after the interval was deservedly rewarded by the Defoe goal and the hope it inspired.
Lamine Kone, courted by Everton and in dispute with Sunderland, put such distractions out of his mind with a solid performance in central defence, and Adnan Januzaj looked sharp on his loan debut as a substitute.
Even when under no pressure from a surprisingly unconvincing City side, Sunderland often played as if too ready to accept the role of gallant losers. Easy clearances went straight to opponents, far too many successes in winning the ball followed by sloppy loss of possession. With the central defenders, Kone and Younes Kaboul, in dominant form, most danger came from the wings.
Moyes also still has work to do on improving his team's defending at full-back.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- With Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattermole injured, and transfer business incomplete, Moyes had weakened options but fielded a competitive side, with useful substitutes, and went agonisingly close to winning a point few had thought possible.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Vito Mannone, 6 -- Dealt competently with most City assaults on his goal but might have done better with the winner.
DF Donald Love, 6 -- Showed promise after given a full debut immediately after his move from Manchester United, but was beaten with alarming ease more than once as City pressed.
DF Younes Kaboul, 7 -- Against some of the Premier League's finest attackers, he picked up where he left off at the end of last season with a strong partnership with Kone at the heart of the defence.
DF Lamine Kone, 7 -- Supporters have been divided by the clear stress of ongoing saga of his possible departure and wage demands, but he remained utterly professional on the field in a strong, committed display.
DF Patrick van Aanholt, 6 -- The challenge on Raheem Sterling that led to City's early lead from a penalty was clumsy and unnecessary, and his defending was patchy throughout. But he was as dangerous as ever going forward.
MF John O'Shea, 6 -- Probably used as a defensive midfielder only because of Lee Cattermole's absence through injury. While his experience makes him a good backup for the back four, he was not assertive enough in his unaccustomed role.
MF Duncan Watmore, 5 -- Given a rare start but was anonymous for most of the game and occasionally sloppy with his passing.
MF Jack Rodwell, 6 -- Had a significant role in the equaliser and one earlier attempt on goal, but was otherwise anonymous and needs to impose himself much more on games if he is to recapture the form Moyes recalls from Everton days.
MF Lynden Gooch, 8 -- He was involved in most of the good things Moyes saw, whether beating his man or pumping dangerous crosses into the City box. Even in defeat, he can be proud of a starring role.
MF Fabio Borini, 7 -- Showed his trademark work rate and passion and tried repeatedly to inspire determined counter-attacks.
FW Jermain Defoe, 7 -- Always a threat to the City defence despite the attentions of £47.5 million defender John Stones, he scored in clinical fashion from one of the two chances that came his way.
MF Wahbi Khazri, 6 -- Played his part in the spirited revival that almost won Sunderland a point.
MF Adnan Januzaj, 7 -- Showed real desire and had a hand in the buildup to Defoe's goal, vindicating Moyes' belief that he can use his season-long loan spell to prove he is still the top player he looked in his early days at Manchester United.
DF Paddy McNair, N/R -- Unfortunate rather than incompetent when his headed own goal gave City a win Sunderland had seemed able to prevent.
Colin is ESPN FC's Sunderland blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @salutsunderland