Sergio Aguero ensured Manchester City kept their title challenge on track with a first-half winner against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday.
- Sunderland 0 Manchester City 1
- Aguero opens scoring early on
- Hart denies Defoe an equaliser
- Jones fires against the post
- City hold on to move second
Aguero settled the match on 16 minutes with his 17th goal of the season and his eighth in as many outings as City moved up to second in the Premier League table, three points behind leaders Leicester.
The Black Cats' plight deepened as they remain firmly entrenched in the relegation zone, four points adrift of safety in 19th place, although they made Manuel Pellegrini's side work hard for their victory on Wearside.
The Citizens certainly didn't have matters their own way, despite going in front just after the quarter-hour mark when Aguero fired home with the outside of his foot after controlling a low cross from Jesus Navas.
The Argentine ace came close to doubling the visitors' lead on 27 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area that took a touch off Yann M'Vila before landing on the roof of the net.
The hosts then sprung to life and should have been back on level terms when Lamine Kone met Jeremain Lens' free-kick, but the defender sent his free header wide on 34 minutes.
A combination of fine goalkeeping from Joe Hart and the woodwork denied the Wearsiders an equaliser on the stroke of half-time as Jermain Defoe forced the England international into a sharp save after skinning Nicolas Otamendi, before Billy Jones struck the frame of the goal on the follow-up.
Aguero might have done better when he fired straight at Black Cats keeper Vito Mannone on 61 minutes after receiving the ball from Fernandinho following Navas' corner.
The striker had team-mate Hart to thank for preserving City's lead in the closing stages when the gloveman pulled off a fine reaction save to keep out Jones and then denied Wahbi Khazri from a corner.