Raheem Sterling made a dream debut for Manchester City, as Manuel Pellegrini’s side beat AS Roma 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes in their International Champions Cup opener.
Sterling scored within three minutes of the start to give the Premier League side the lead at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and the £49m new signing fromLiverpool was later denied a clear-cut penalty midway through the first half after Australian referee Jarred Gillett inexplicably failed to penalise Roma defenderAlessandro Florenzi for a clumsy challenge in the box.
Miralem Pjanic embarrassed Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero with a Roma equaliser from 25 yards on eight minutes, but the Argentine’s discomfort was nothing compared to Ashley Cole’s later in the match.
The former England defender gifted City the lead eight minutes into the second half when he completely mishit an attempted backpass, allowing 18-year-old City striker Kelechi Iheanacho to beat Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis from close range.
City had dominated the first half, with David Silva linking well with Sterling in a 4-3-3 formation, but the sheer number of second-half substitutions robbed the match of any flow and fluency. Roma playmaker Adem Ljajic made it 2-2 from a free-kick on 88 minutes to send the match into penalties.
City goalkeeper Joe Hart, who replaced Caballero at half-time, kept out Seydou Keita’s spot-kick in sudden-death after scoring an emphatic spot-kick of his own to secure two points for City for the shoot-out win.
City face Real Madrid on Friday as they continue their preparations for the new Premier League season, which starts with a visit to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion on 10 August.
3′ – GOAL! Roma 0-1 Manchester City. Sterling makes it 1-0 to City with his third touch, a cool finish past De Sanctis after running on to a superb chipped through ball from Iheanacho.
8′ – GOAL! Roma 1-1 Manchester City. Totti lays the ball back to Gervinho, who sidefoots off to Miralem Pjanic to slam a shot past Caballero from 25 yards!
14′ – CHANCE! Totti chips a pass towards Torosidis in the left channel, but Zuculiniis there to block the goalbound volley.
23′ – PENALTY SHOUT! Florenzi seems to pull down Sterling on the left-hand side of the area, but the referee incredibly waves play on.
33′ – CHANCE! Silva again glides into the left channel and chips the ball up to Iheanacho. The 18-year-old gets good power from a static jump, but heads straight at De Sanctis.
43′- CHANCE! Mangala scoops a cross from Pjanic over his own bar under pressure from Gervinho. De Rossi is unmarked for Totti’s corner from the left, but heads over.
52′ – GOAL! Roma 1-2 Manchester City. Iheanacho calmly finishes past De Sanctis after a terrible backpass from Ashley Cole.
70′- CHANCE! Nasri finds Navas down the right, and he lays the ball back for Toure to angle a sidefooted shot goalwards, but Lobont is down to save to his left.
86′ – GOAL! Roma 2-2 Manchester City. Ljajic dinks an angled free-kick through the wall and past Hart to level.
Will Kelechi Iheanacho be part of Manuel Pellegrini’s plans this season? The 18-year-old is highly-rated at the Etihad Stadium, combining pace with good technical ability and a knack for finding space in the opposition penalty area. Edin Dzeko is likely to complete his move away from the Etihad Stadium in the next few weeks, probably to Roma, so a space will open up in the first-team squad. Will Pellegrini ask Iheanacho to fill it?
MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS
MAN OF THE MATCH
David Silva (Manchester City): The Spain international, who underwent an ankle operation at the start of June, has just enjoyed his first summer break with no international football since 2011. Silva had a stop-season with injuries last term, but he looked refreshed and focused against Roma at the MCG. His link-up play with Sterling was excellent – Sterling only signed for City last week but the pair seem to read each other’s games instinctively.
Roma: De Sanctis 7, Florenzi 7, Manolas 7, Romagnoli 7, Torosidis 7, Pjanic 7, De Rossi 6, Ucan 6, Iturbe 6, Totti 6, Gervinho 6. Subs: Maicon 6, Mapou 6, Castan 6, Keita 6, Nainggolan 7, Falque 6, Destro 7, Ljajic 7, Lobont 6, Doumbia 6.
Manchester City: Caballero 5, Sagna 6, Kompany 7, Mangala 6, Clichy 6, Fernando6, Zuculini 6, Garcia 7, Silva 9, Sterling 8, Iheanacho 8. Subs: Hart 6, Horsfield, 6, Denayer 7, Kolarov 6, Toure 7, Lopes 6, Nasri 6, Navas 6, Barker 6, Evans 6, Unal 6.