Match Report

City ramp up preparations for domestic return with win over Girona

HIGH FIVES: Haaland, Mahrez and KDB celebrate after we double the lead.
Sat 17 Dec
Kevin De Bruyne 

Erling Haaland 

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City continued our preparation for the return of domestic football with a fine 2-0 friendly win over Girona at the Academy Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne gave supporters a great homecoming gift by netting five minutes into his return from the World Cup, before the classy midfielder set-up Erling Haaland’s strike.

Across the 90 minutes there was also a great presence of youth with a number of EDS players involved.

The victory was the ideal way to further our sharpness before our League Cup clash with Liverpool on Thursday 22 December.


De Bruyne gave City the perfect start in the fifth minute when he intercepted a sloppy pass out of defence from Paulo Gazzaniga to coolly slot past the Fulham loanee from 12-yards.

And the Belgium international almost turned provider shortly after when he collected Cole Palmer’s through ball to gain space in the six-yard box, squaring to Haaland before Ramon Terrats intervened, who did well to get back into position.

Midway through the first half we doubled our advantage in typical City fashion with a neat move first constructed by Shea Charles’ pass to De Bruyne.

After receiving the ball with his back to goal, the 31-year-old then swept it wide to Riyad Mahrez, before the winger then returned the favour by sliding the midfielder into the box who teed up Haaland to tap home.

With 15 minutes remaining, Michel’s side should have halved the deficit when Stefan Ortega Moreno’s under hit pass was collected by Ivan Martin, who then wastefully passed the ball out of reach from Valentin Castellanos who could only get a toe to the ball with goal at his mercy.

In the closing stages of the first half, the La Liga outfit were arguably on top and almost made their pressure count when Ivan Torres' cross was met by Castellanos' powerful header that crashed into the post.

Pep Guardiola's side remained unchanged after the interval but it was the visitors who continued to press.

Former Middlesbrough forward Cristhian Stuani came from the bench and saw his goalbound header from six-yards expertly tipped round the post by Ortega. 

With over half an hour to play City should've been out of reach when De Bruyne weaved into the box, slid the ball back to Cole Palmer whose miscued effort fell to Mahrez, whose powerful shot flew just wide of the near post.

Girona immediately went on the offensive when Samuel Saiz's defence-splitting pass found Couto who teed up Stuani before the striker rattled the crossbar when he looked certain to score.

With 20 minutes remaining the tempo of proceedings dropped seemingly alongside the temperature, with both sides maintaining possession when retrieving the ball. 

City final chance of the friendly came when Carlos Borges found space inside the box to receive the ball, cut onto his left foot and let fly but saw his venomous effort blocked.

Then, with five minutes remaining, the visitors thought they had pulled a goal back when Manu Vallejo headed home from close range, only to be denied by the offside flag.

how we lined up

City XI: Ortega Moreno, Lewis, Katongo, Charles, Gomez, Gundogan (c) (Robertson 78'), De Bruyne (McDonald 80'), Palmer, Mahrez, Rogers (Borges 51'), Haaland (Bobb 59')

Subs: Van Sas, Smith, Dickson, Alleyne, Galvez, O'Reilly, Samuel

Girona XI: Gazzaniga, Terrats (Espinosa 46'), Gutierrez (Urena 73'), Martinez (Saiz 46'), Castellanos (Stuani 46'), Villa (Fernandez 46'), Garcia (Vallejo 73'), Romeu, Couto (Roca 73'), Bueno, Nunez

Subs: Carlos, Fuidias 


City’s players gained vital minutes in their legs before the shutters rise on domestic football again in late December.

For Gundogan and De Buryne, the friendly re-acclimatised them to the cold British weather, after competing at the World Cup in Qatar.


City return from the break with a Carabao Cup meeting with Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.

The Round Four tie will be played on Thursday 22 December, with kick-off scheduled for 20:00pm (UK).

man of the match: Kevin de bruyne 

A goal and an assist from City's talismanic midfielder handed De Bruyne an ideal return from the World Cup.

The 31-year-old was often a thorn in Girona's side with teasing passes, strong runs and his ability to maintain possession in tight areas.



“It was really good," Guardiola said.

"It was the first game after a really long time and it was good for players who haven’t played much and for players like Erling, Riyad and Sergio who haven’t played at all.

“They were good minutes for them and for us all and we played against our friends from Girona, so it was good.”


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