Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Manchester City pay the penalty as Wolves win Asia Trophy

Pep Guardiola 'satisfied' with Premier League champions' performance in summit clasheven as they miss four spot kicks

Rui Patricio celebrates with his Wolverhampton Wanderers teammates after making the decisive save of the penalty shootout. Thomas Peter / Reuters
Rui Patricio celebrates with his Wolverhampton Wanderers teammates after making the decisive save of the penalty shootout. Thomas Peter / Reuters

Manchester City have won silverware in a shootout in 2019, and they can console themselves with the thought it was a more important prize than the Premier League Asia Trophy. They have the League Cup in their trophy cabinet, courtesy of their prowess from 12 yards, but they paid a penalty for four missed spot kicks in Shanghai.

Profligacy cost them as the brilliance of Rui Patricio brought Wolverhampton Wanderers the pre-season honours.

“Congratulations to Wolves,” Pep Guardiola said. “They deserve it. We missed many penalties. The keeper was good and our takers were not good. Normally when you miss penalties, both situations take an influence.”

And City missed penalties.

Raheem Sterling skied his effort in an opening quarter when City were dominant. If Patricio saved Wolves in open play at the start, he doubled up as their shootout saviour at the end, with a hat-trick of stops from Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Lukas Nmecha.

Ryan Bennett, the 18-year-old Taylor Perry and Ruben Vinagre scored for Wolves, and they prevailed 3-2 after a 0-0 draw. “Rui was amazing,” his manager Nuno Espirito Santo said.

City could reflect that Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, their first-choice penalty takers, were absent. Kevin de Bruyne, who played brilliantly, perhaps ought to be ahead of Sterling in the queue – both were substituted long before the shootout – when Leroy Sane was tripped by Adama Traore. Sterling, who scored the winning penalty in the League Cup final shootout, missed the target and his chance.

He had a hat-trick of early opportunities, but could not ally his elusiveness with a clinical touch. Nevertheless City, who made a series of devastatingly fast starts last season, began in similar mode. “We played really well in the first half, in the first 15 or 20 minutes,” Guardiola added.

De Bruyne looked a man possessed, blending intensity with quality and City’s chances tended to be fashioned by their acting captain.

Patricio showed bravery as well as agility; he was hurt saving from Sterling, after a De Bruyne pass, but played on after a seven-minute stoppage. The Portuguese goalkeeper, who went on to make a flying stop from Silva’s free kick, had already made a point-blank block from Aymeric Laporte after the Belgian’s corner drew a near-post flick-on from Rodri. It was an illustration of one thing the new signing could add, bringing height to a short team to make him a set-piece threat.

“Rodri played an incredible game,” Guardiola added. “He was much better than the last game.”

City’s defence were rarely troubled, apart from by Traore’s pace, but after Wolves survived the initial onslaught, the game became more of an even affair. Their solidity demonstrated why they boasted such a fine record against the top six last season, when they were the first team to take points off City and beat each of the other five in either the league or the FA Cup.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is satisfied with how his team played in China. Thomas Peter / Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is satisfied with how his team played in China. Thomas Peter / Reuters

“They defended really well, defending deep,” Guardiola praised.

Whereas he was easing plenty of his players back into action, with De Bruyne and Sterling among four who were removed at half time, Wolves are having to finalise preparations. They featured that rarity in pre-season, an unchanged team, which highlighted both a lack of signings and the proximity of Thursday’s Europa League qualifier against Crusaders.

Nuno waited 60 minutes before making any changes. Eventual victory may have meant more for a club with Chinese owners, in Fosun, but Guardiola was pleased with City’s preparations. “Overall I am so satisfied with what we have done,” he said.

Meanwhile Newcastle United, watched by new manager Steve Bruce, claimed third place as Yoshinori Muto’s goal defeated a disappointing West Ham United side. Academy coach Ben Dawson was officially in charge, with Bruce only in China on a tourist visa, but, on the newcomer’s advice, Newcastle played 3-5-2, a formation he has often favoured elsewhere.

In a sign he could stay, the Manchester United target Sean Longstaff came on and had a goal disallowed for offside.

Updated: July 20, 2019 07:01 PM

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