Match Report

City v Sunderland

Edin Dzeko
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Sat 27 Jul
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Edin Dzeko’s superb half-volley secured a first piece of silverware of the season for Manuel Pellegrini as City beat Sunderland 1-0 in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy 2013.

Dzeko also missed a 65th-minute penalty with a shot that could have cleared one or two of the local skyscrapers, but fortunately it didn’t prove too costly.

In a controlled and solid performance, the Blues showed glimpses of what may be to come in the coming months by looking stoic at the back, inventive and busy in midfield and a constant threat up front.

Zabaleta

It was all the more impressive considering the atrocious pitch at the Hong Kong Stadium which deteriorated rapidly as heavy rain began to fall again shortly after kick-off.

 

Sunderland, who’d earned the right to play in the final after beating Spurs 3-1 in the semi-final, began brightly, pressing  City back in the early stages and forcing one or two errors  from the Blues

 

...City 1 Sunderland...

 

But for all their hustle and bustle, the Blues scored with their first real attack – and what a stunning strike it was. A lofted ball into the box by David Silva, trying to pick Pablo Zabaleta’s run out, was cleared to the edge of the box by Wes Brown – but only to the lurking Dzeko who unleashed a howitzer of a shot that flew past the keeper and into the net off the post.

Edin Dzeko

If the Bosnian, who also scored the winner against South China on Wednesday, was intent on proving his worth to Pellegrini, the trip to Hong Kong will have only justified the Chilean’s opinion that Dzeko can be an integral member of the squad for City this season - further reaffirmed perhaps by the Player of the Tournament award Edin picked up after this game.

His strike partner Alvaro Negredo was also lively and sharp and perhaps could have bagged a couple of goals in a first-half that the Blues dominated as time wore on – usually prompted by the impressive Silva who was looking refreshed and back to his best.

 

City almost doubled their lead with the last act of the first period when Craig Gardner’s diving headed clearance rattled the foot of his own post while he collided head first with the other

 

...City 1 Sunderland 0

 

Jesus Navas made his debut as a second-half sub for James Milner and quickly found the conditions didn’t suit his white-hot pace as he battled to get a grip on the slippery surface, but when he did find his footing, he looked exciting and a real threat.

Negredo, busy all night, was left tasting mud after a clattering challenge from John O’Shea – thankfully neither Spaniard will probably ever experience a pitch like this again during their Premier League careers!

Kompany Garcia

Midway through the second-half City really should have put the game to bed when Fernandinho, who had only been on the pitch for three minutes, cleverly flicked the ball up past Ba and the Sunderland man instinctively put his hand out.

Referee Lee Taylor spotted the offence and awarded a penalty that Dzeko then hit high wide and (not so)handsome with one of the worst spot-kicks you are likely to see - with Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez now gone, Pellegrini will hope to quickly identify a penalty-taker before the season starts.

Matija Nastasic was stretchered off 15 minutes from the end after picking up an injury, Navas saw a shot cleared off the line by Gardner and Pantilimon was forced to make his first save of real note on 85 minutes - but otherwise City ended their time in Hong Kong with a satisfying display - and a trophy.

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