City kicked off their pre-season programme with a 2-0 win over Adelaide United in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Gold Coast’s CBus Stadium.
Brandon Barker scored his first for the seniors after 62 minutes before Bruno Zuculini doubled the advantage six minutes from time to give Manuel Pellegrini’s men a winning start to the 2015/16 campaign.
It turned out to be an understandably low key affair in keeping with the manager’s intention to take a check on the condition of his squad away from the spotlight at this embryonic stage of the team’s pre-season training camp.
None of the nine players who arrived on the Gold Coast late on Tuesday night were considered for selection, meaning there was a blend of first-team pedigree and promising young talents in the squad.
Most notably, opportunity knocked for the most junior member of this travelling party as Cameron Humphreys partnered Vincent Kompany in the heart of defence at just 16 years of age.
Elsewhere, James Horsfield also made his first-team debut at left-back, while Pablo Maffeo, Manu Garcia and Olivier Ntcham earned starting berths after impressing on the post-season tour.
Adelaide United finished third in Australia’s A League last season so would be no pushovers which they demonstrated n the first three minutes as they twice came close to opening the scoring.
First, a Cirio cross was nearly turned in at the back post by Djite after two minutes before Willy Caballero came to City’s rescue 60 seconds later, diving at Mabil’s feet and smothering.
Pellegrini’s men warmed to the task, however, and created a few of their own chances to break the deadlock early on.
The best opportunity City fashioned in the first-half was on 11 minutes when Manu Garcia hit the crossbar via an excellent fingertip save from Galekovic, latching onto Yaya Toure’s measured through ball which followed a trademark drop of the shoulder from the Ivorian.
There were further half chances for Kelechi Iheanacho, Jose Angel Pozo and Ntcham in the remaining first-half minutes but none which unduly threatened an Adelaide side who matched their opponents stride for stride for long stretches.
Half-time brought it’s expected raft of changes as Manuel brought on a completely different XI, handing debuts to Ellis Plummer, George Glendon and Enes Unal.
The latter had a good chance to score his first goal in sky blue four minutes after coming on but he couldn’t quite sort his feet out in time to force Galekovic into a save, sidefooting wide after Barker had slid him through.
Just when the second half seemed to be reverting to the same pattern as the first where midfield skirmishing was the order of the day, the game caught fire on the hour mark when Bruno Zuculini forced a terrific save from the Adelaide keeper with a dipping effort.
A minute later, City took the lead through EDS starlet Barker who slalomed in from the left side and thrashed the ball across Galekovic and into the far corner.
It was a goal those who regularly make the journey to City Football Academy to see our under-21s have seen Brandon score on a few occasions before.
It looked like that was going to be the only goal of the game until the 84th minute when Zuculini tapped home a sublime Gael Clichy cross to complete the scoring.
First half City XI: Caballero, Maffeo, Kompany (C), Humphreys, Horsfield, Nasri, Toure, Garcia, Ntcham, Pozo, Iheanacho
Second half City XI: Wright, Clichy, Plummer, Evans, Glendon, Fernando, Fofana, Zuculini, Navas, Barker, Unal (Celina 73mins).
Adelaide: Galekovic (c), Marrone, McGowan, Malik, Elrich (Goodwin 29mins), Isaias, Carrusca, Jeggo, Mabil, Djite, Cirio