( AFP ) - A second-half strike by Irish international Stephen Ireland saw Manchester City defeat Sunderland 1-0 and move into third in the Premiership.
In a dreary affair Ireland's smart volley at least saw City bounce back after their 6-0 drubbing by Chelsea in their last Premiership outing and maintain their 100 percent home record under former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.
City fans were also warmed by the fact that it was yet another defeat for former Manchester United hardman midfielder Roy Keane, whose side have won just twice this term on their return to the Premiership.
Eriksson, who has enjoyed a successful career as a club manager in stark contrast to an underwhelming reign as England boss, admitted it hadn't been a great advert for the game.
"It wasn't a great game but Sunderland played well and I am delighted we have taken three points," said the Swede, who won among other things a Serie A title with Lazio.
"However, its very important for us after the Chelsea match that we won and kept a clean sheet."
The first-half was a pretty uneventful affair with neither goalkeeper having to take too much care of their respective goals as both sides displayed some pretty woeful finishing.
Sunderland 'keeper Craig Gordon had to be smart to save from veteran Belgian international striker Emile Mpenza and Blumer Elano in the first half-hour while his counterpart Joe Hart did not have one save to make with Grant Leadbitter's long range effort going wide and Danny Collins heading over the bar.
The second-half promised little more from either side and it was only Sunderland who showed some initiative with Kenwyne Jones forcing Hart into a save and Nyron Nosworthy shooting wide from long range.
However, it was to be City who thankfully broke the deadlock as Ireland - who earlier this season was involved in a bizarre story with the Irish national side failing to turn up citing the death of a grandmother but later admitted he had made it up as he wanted to be with his girlfriend who had suffered a miscarriage - fired home an unstoppable volley from inside the box.
The Black Cats tried to hit back but Dickson Etuhu shot wide and then City's unsettled striker Rolando Bianchi headed over in what could be one of his last appearances for the club as he is believed to want a move back to Italy in the January transfer window.
Sunderland had one last chance to level affairs but Daniel Chopra's long range effort was easily saved by Hart.