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Shaker for the Blues: City 0-1 Al Hilal report

Tivoli Stadium

Tivoli Stadium

City’s first outing since being crowned Premier League champions two months ago fell flat in the mountains of Austria.

In the shadows of the imposing Alps that surround the pristine and pretty Tivoli Neu in Innsbruck, the Blues, who used 24 players during the game, tumbled to defeat to top Saudi Side Al Hilal.

Roberto Mancini sprinkled some stardust on the occasion by picking Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleks Kolarov and Adam Johnson – recovered from a virus that kept him in bed for the previous 24 hours – in his starting eleven.

Israeli triallist Nir Biton and teenager Marco Lopes were also included.

City v Al Hilal

But the seniors found Al Hilal busy, adaptable and technically neat and tidy and the City youngsters that followed them in the second half couldn’t find a way through either.

The only goal of the game came in the 68th minute from Shaker Nawaf Alabid who beat Eirik Johansen with a vicious shot that elicited a double somersault worthy of an Olympic gymnast from its perpetrator.

City v Al Hilal 1

It could have been worse for the young second half City side, marshalled by Kolo Toure, as Johansen was called into action to save well with his legs.

Earlier the first half had petered out into a stalemate marbled with some pretty rusty shooting that kept the ball boys busier than the two keepers.

City v Al Hilal

There was no Sergio Aguero or Edin Dzeko for the Blues as they sat out the opener ready for supposedly tougher tasks ahead during the training camp fortnight. The Blues face German side Dynamo Dresden next Tuesday and Turkish outfit Besiktas in a week’s time.

The English champions will be fitter by then and at times there was a decent pace to this contest especially considering City are barely half a dozen days into the new season build-up.

City v Al Hilal 1

Al Hilal just about shaded the game with Saad Alharthi (in the first 45 minutes) always a danger down the left and twice threatening to give the Middle East side the lead.

At times the Blues seemed not so suited by the humid conditions and there were understandable nerves from Biton and the 16-year-old Lopes as some passes went astray.

City v Al Hilal

Even so City enjoyed success down the left through Kolarov and Luca Scapuzzi who was on loan at Oldham last season without ever looking likely to beat the Al Hilal keeper. It was a similar story after the break

City (first half):  Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Kompany, Rekik, Biton, Yaya Toure, Lopes, Johnson, Tevez and Scapuzzi.

(second half): Johansen, Boyata, Kolo Toure, Savic, Helan, Elabdellaoui, Razak, Bunn, Jelavic (Mancini 76mins), Weiss, and Scapuzzi (Evans 63mins)

Al Hilal (first half):  Sharahili, Aldossary, Alfaraj, Alfraidi, Aldawsari, Alnakhli, Hermach, Alabdullah, Alharthi, Alqahtani, Almusallam.

Referee: Michael Daxauer (Austria)

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