Champions Manchester City recovered some of their swagger as Aleksandar Kolarov, Sergio Aguero and James Milner fired them to a convincing Barclays Premier League win over Sunderland.
The hosts also recorded their first clean sheet of the season at the Etihad Stadium.
Kolarov's fifth-minute free-kick was all City had to show for their first-half efforts, but Sunderland were then overrun as they slipped to their first defeat of the season. Aguero came off the bench to add the second on the hour and Milner fired a free-kick through Simon Mignolet after 89 minutes.
Just as pleasing for City will have been their defensive solidity, which they rediscovered without their captain Vincent Kompany, who was ruled out with a calf injury. Micah Richards made a surprise return from an ankle injury in his place while Joleon Lescott was also restored to the defence.
Yaya Toure took over as captain, playing alongside Gareth Barry in midfield, while Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli started up front. Sunderland had former City winger Adam Johnson in their side hoping to make a point, but the England winger was unable to make an impression.
City took the lead after Tevez was brought down by Carlos Cuellar on their first attack. Kolarov stepped up to curl a superb free-kick past Mignolet at the near post.
The home side went close to a second as a Tevez shot was deflected into Pablo Zabaleta's path but Mignolet saved at point-blank range. Tevez drove the ball back across goal after it found his way back to him but Zabaleta was unable to turn it in.
Balotelli won a free-kick on the edge of the box after being caught in the face by Gardner's boot. Kolarov took aim again but his effort was deflected behind for a corner by Sebastian Larsson.
Barry drove wide as City continued to push and Sunderland's best efforts amounted to shots from James McClean and Steven Fletcher that did not trouble Joe Hart.
City started the second half well with Toure cutting inside and forcing Mignolet to palm over. A chance fell to Richards from the resulting corner and his shot at the second attempt was cleared off the line by Danny Rose.
Sunderland finally began to apply some pressure but a powerful header by Fletcher, which brought a fine save from Joe Hart, was ruled offside. Kolarov then produced a fine tackle to deny Johnson a clear run on goal.
That served to shake City back into life and a sliding Balotelli was inches away from diverting a Kolarov cross towards goal. Richards then brought a good diving save out of Mignolet with a powerful header from a Milner cross.
The second goal came as Aguero - on moments earlier for Balotelli - raced to the near post to turn in a Kolarov cross from six yards. Silva played in Tevez, who drove narrowly wide, and then the roles were reversed as the Argentinian rounded Mignolet to set up the Spaniard, whose chip hit the bar.
Barry tried his luck but Gardner headed away before Richards again saw a chance blocked on the line in a crowded penalty area.
City finally got their third four minutes from time when Milner whipped in a free-kick from the left of the box which took a slight deflection off the head of Gardner to evade Mignolet's grasp.
|19 May 2013||v Norwich (H)|
|01 Dec 2012||v Everton (H)|
|27 Oct 2012||v Swansea (H)|
|09 Dec 2012||v Man Utd (H)|
|09 Feb 2013||v Southampton (A)|
|21 Apr 2013||v Spurs (A)|