Al Ain 0
Lopes 63mins, Jovetic 78mins, Hiwula (pen) 89mins
- Match reports
- 15 May 2014 18:47
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
His Highness Sheikh Mansour watched on from the stands as City concluded a fantastic week for the club with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Al Ain in Abu Dhabi.
The Blues dominated the game for long periods, and a sweet second half strike from Marcos Lopes, a sensational goal from Stevan Jovetic and a late Jordi Hiwula penalty ensured a deserved victory in front of a lively and passionate crowd at the breathtaking Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.
Less than a week after being crowned Champions of England, the Blues were back in action as part of a whistle-stop post-season tour to Abu Dhabi.
City had prepared for this encounter with UAE’s most successful club with a packed programme of activity since stepping off the plane into the sweltering 40 degree temperatures, including signing sessions and open training, as well as a celebration hosted by Sheikh Mansour to commemorate the double-winning 2013/14 campaign.
Meanwhile, Al Ain came into the game on a high after securing an Asian Champions League quarter final berth on Tuesday night, and were seeking to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions while keeping one eye on Sunday’s President’s Cup fixture.
Manuel Pellegrini opted for healthy dose of experience in the starting XI, although there was room for Lopes and Dedryck Boyata in a line-up also boasting Samir Nasri, Stevan Jovetic and Aleks Kolarov.
The Blues have enjoyed a warm welcome throughout the stay in Abu Dhabi, and this proved no exception, with flags and a brass band preceding the teams onto the pitch together with the Premier League trophy adorned with sky blue ribbons.
"The stadium's green carpeted surface was conducive to the exciting style of football fans have come to associate with Pellegrini’s Blues, but it also played to the strengths of the hosts and the early action was end-to-end with the teams trading chances."
...Al Ain v City...
Kolarov, wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Vincent Kompany, drilled a low shot just wide of the post and Al Ain keeper Waleed Salem was forced to divert Lopes’ effort behind.
Meanwhile, at the other end Mohamad Salem will have been disappointed not to hit the target after rising high to head a cross towards Pantilimon’s goal, and the Romanian had to be alert to deny Omar Abdulrahman, who came on trial at the Etihad Stadium in 2012.
Mass substitutions from the hosts, which meant that the crowd got a glimpse of 20 different players before the half hour mark disrupted the rhythm somewhat, but Richards produced the best moment of the half when he struck a powerful effort which smacked against the post.
Al Ain may be nicknamed the Boss but it was City who controlled the game in the opening 45 minutes, and there were flashes of inspiration from Lopes, Jovetic and Nasri but the half time whistle arrived with the game still goalless.
The first action of the second period came from the stands, as the Blues players experienced their second pitch invasion in four days. Two young fans rushed onto the field and manage to embrace Nasri and high five Lopes before the game could be resumed.
Al Ain were keen to press forward in the early stages of the half, and Richard Wright was called upon to make a good stop before Jovetic shot wide of the post for the Blues.
But it was Lopes who finally opened the scoring just after the hour mark, latching onto an inch perfect through-ball from Nasri and stroking the ball home past the despairing keeper much to the delight of the majority of the crowd.
The talented Portuguese should have made it two just minutes later, but couldn’t get the vital touch on Kolarov’s cross, while Boyata was unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet after a powerful run, but his effort was just wide of the target.
Continued pressure was finally rewarded in spectacular style, when Jovetic twisted and turned to beat the keeper twice before cooly firing home from an acute angle.
Bytyqi was inches away from grabbing a debut goal, while the post came to City’s rescue late on after Wright was beaten by a powerful strike from the hosts.
City used all five substitutes ensuring that all the EDS members of the travelling party clocked up some minutes, and striker Jordi Hiwula marked his first team debut in style, winning and then converting a late penalty to add gloss to the scoreline.
In the end, a comfortable victory and a satisfying end to the very last game of the season.