Patrick Vieira won his first two games as Head of City EDS in comprehensive style at the Oberndorf Tournament.
Goals from Greg Leigh, Albert Rusnak and Jordi Hiwula in the 3-0 win over Team Black Forest gave the Frenchman his first taste of victory in the managerial dugout.
It was a game the Blues had to win by two clear goals to have any chance of qualifying for the semi-final and Vieira’s men did their part but unfortunately Fluminense beat Borussia Monchengladbach in the other game which ruled City out of the last four.
That means that City will take on Schalke for fifth place in the tournament – a process City began by beating Benfica in the fifth-place semi-final courtesy of goals from Rusnak, Fofana and Leigh.
Against Team Black Forest in the early game, City were comfortably on top for the whole game – unrecognisable from the side that surrendered a goal lead against Monchengladbach in the opening game on Friday.
Chances came thick and fast for the Blues, with Angus Gunn in the City goal a virtual spectator for most of the match.
Olivier Ntcham was first to work either goalkeeper in the ninth minute when he met a good crossfield pass from Rusnak and attempted to bend it into the far corner.
Black Forest’s no.1 made a fine stop to deny the Frenchman, who shone in this unfamiliar starting position out on the left flank.
It was the Parisian who again came close after 19 minutes with a mazy dribble and one of his trademark cannon ball shots which came back off the post with the keeper rooted to the spot.
Jordi Hiwula could, and perhaps should have opened the scoring a minute later but he couldn’t quite sweep the ball into the back of the net from close range.
It was turning into another case of City crafting countless opportunities but not taking them – that was until the second half when the levy truly broke.
Greg Leigh got the scoring under way, arriving at the back post to volley past the goalkeeper and it was two almost immediately afterwards courtesy of Albert Rusnak who slotted home a great cross by Shay Facey.
A flawless performance got even better when Hiwula notched his second goal of the tournament, atoning for his earlier miss with a cool striker’s finish after the keeper palmed out a shot from Fofana.
Only an hour after the game, City discovered that their efforts were not enough for a place in the last four but they picked themselves up to see off Benfica in another classy showing which puts Vieira’s men in with a shout of a fifth place finish.
Rusnak, Fofana and Leigh all notched in a deserved 3-1 win for the Blues over the Lisbon giants.
City were awarded an early penalty when Sinan Bytyqi was felled just inside the penalty area and, as he did against Shrewsbury last week, Rusnak assumed responsibilities from the spot and put his side ahead.
Benfica hit back with a penalty of their own before half-time but City played the Portuguese side off the park in the second period and got the goals the desire, intensity and creativity deserved.
French midfielder Fofana shaped a lovely strike around the keeper into the far corner before left-back Greg Leigh grabbed his second of the day – although it may be one for the Oberndorf Tournament dubious goals panel as Bytyqi may have got the last touch.
It left City to ponder what might have been had they not conceded the second goal against Monchengladbach on Friday but a record of two wins, one draw and a defeat can never be considered a bad return against top level European opposition.
That win means that City face Schalke in tomorrow afternoon’s fifth-place play-off at 1.20pm – we’ll have live goal updates on Twitter and a match report here on the site.
XI v Black Forest: Gunn, Facey, Denayer, Bossaerts, Leigh, Evans, Fofana, Ntcham, Rusnak, Lopes, Hiwula.
XI v Benfica: Lawlor, Facey, Denayer, Bossaerts, Leigh, Glendon, Ntcham, Fofana, Rusnak, Lopes, Bytyqi.