Zabaleta (42mins) Yaya Toure (44mins)
- Match reports
- 27 July 2012 17:00
- Posted by David Clayton
Two goals in two minutes before half-time secured an impressive 2-0 win for City against Arsenal while torrential rain fell and lightning flashed around the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
Pablo Zabaleta opened the scoring on 42 minutes after a well-worked move opened up the Gunners defence and Yaya Toure doubled his team’s advantage on 44 minutes as City finished the first period in blistering form.
It was the perfect end to the Blues’ stay in China and the team will now jet off to Malaysia before returning home early next week.
With a week passing since the Blues’ last pre-season game and just a couple of training sessions under the players’ belts, City could be forgiven for looking a little ring rusty.
The sweltering Beijing humidity and downtown smog that shrouds the bustling Chinese capital hung heavily over the Bird’s Nest Arena and while two Premier League teams were the star attraction for the 52,000 crowd, the frenetic pace of a battle between these two English giants you’d expect back home was never likely to happen.
Arsenal won the first battle of the day with perhaps three-quarters of the Chinese spectators wearing replica Gunners tops. There were plenty of City fans dotted in the crowd and perhaps in 12 months’ time, there will be more parity.
The majority had the temerity to even boo Club Ambassador Mike Summerbee when he paraded the Premier League trophy before kick-off – Buzzer, a veteran of numerous hostile receptions at Old Trafford during his playing days, lapped it up!
Roberto Mancini, robbed of so many stellar names on this trip to the Far East, started with an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation deploying , Aleks Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta as wing-backs.
Only Adam Johnson and Dedryck Boyata could claim to have any first-team experience on a very young City bench that included George Evans, Denis Suarez and Marko Lopes.
The Blues began brightly and Sergio Aguero was unlucky to be flagged offside inside the first 90 seconds and Carlos Tevez fluffed an opportunity when well- placed just a few minutes later
Arsenal threatened, too, with Gervinho and Theo Walcott lively in attack, but more often than not, they ran into either the excellent Kolo Toure or Vincent Kompany.
Before the break City had two more presentable opportunities with Yaya Toure and Aguero denied by last-ditch challenges before Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott sent curling shots in that went just inches wide in what was proving to be an entertaining 2012 Winoly Cup match.
Then, with just three minutes remaining, Tevez put Biton into space on the left and the young Israeli picked out Yaya Toure on the edge of the box. The Ivorian bided his time before playing in the overlapping Zabaleta who took the ball in his stride before planting firmly past Fabianski.
Two minutes later and the Blues doubled their lead when Kolarov’s teasing cross found Aguero and the Argentine’s cross/shot was stabbed home by the brilliant Yaya Toure to put City firmly in the driving seat.
Thunder, lightning and torrential rain greeted the players at the resumption of the second-half, making conditions slippery under foot and it was the Gunners who pressed early on.
When they did breach the Blues’ backline, Arsenal found Costel Pantilimon in commanding form – and even when the big Romanian was beaten, the woodwork rescued City as Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot struck both posts and bounced to safety!
Brilliant work by the razor-sharp Tevez should have resulted in a third for City on 70 minutes after the Argentine powered Kieran Gibbs to lay on the perfect ball for compatriot Aguero but his clever chip went just the wrong side of the post.
With the rain unrelenting and sitting heavy on the surface, play became ragged and misplaced passes the norm, but nonetheless, City ran out comfortable winners after an impressive display in Beijing, winning many new fans in the process.