clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Manchester City trounce Milan in International Champions Cup opener

New, comments

Four City goals in the first 26 minutes led City to a 5-1 victory to start ICC play in Pittsburgh.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

A relentless first half and Stevan Jovetic's brace made for a bright start to City's International Champions Cup, with the English champions pounding AC Milan 5-1 in Pittsburgh.

Manuel Pellegrini recalled the majority of his lineup from the SKC victory, only replacing Micah Richards and Karim Rekik with Gael Clichy and Matija Nastasić, respectively. Former City striker Mario Balotelli also began the game on the bench for Milan.

Just as against MLS opposition, City's opener came early against Milan. In the 12th minute Jesus Navas played a nice through ball into the path of Stevan Jovetic, and the forward finished inside Milan keeper Michael Agazzi's near post to give City their first of many on the night.

A couple minutes later Scott Sinclair also took advantage of Milan's lack of coordination at the back to bring the game to 2-0. Clichy, on right back duty for the night, played a nice one-two before crossing for Sinclair, whose finish across Agazzi was just one of many rough moments for the Milan keeper.

Jovetic continued his fine preseason form with his two goals in Pittsburgh.  More so than any other player in the City squad, Jovetic has certainly taken advantage of the absence of the World Cup players. With Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko absent from the side, the healthy version of Jovetic has shown all the skill City fans have hoped for since his purchase from Fiorentina.

With his fantastic cross-field ball for Navas, Jovetic also played provider for City's third goal. The Spanish winger tried an outrageous volley, which found its way into the net after a deflection. That Navas tried that shot in the first place goes a long way toward gauging the winger's confidence heading into the season.

Speaking of promise, Kelechi Iheanacho continued his summer tour cult hero status, scoring the fourth goal in the blowout. After fielding deflected ball, the Nigerian prospect danced a bit at the edge of the box then fired a left-footed snap shot that bounced off Milan goalkeeper and into the net. That's two goals in two games on the U.S. tour for the youngster, whose work permit status remains in doubt.

Milan were able to get a goal back by way of Sulley Muntari in the 42nd minute when the Ghanian tapped in Alex's header to give Milan a tiny bit of hope in the game. Aside from Balotelli's disallowed finish in the second half, Milan didn't consistently threaten Willy Caballero's goal. City's defense wasn't perfect and gave up a few occasional opportunities, but the attacking dominance overwhelmed Milan and really shielded the team from any true harm.

Milan's best chance of avoiding embarrassment actually came from the sky. Bad weather in Pittsburgh delayed the second-half kickoff, and doubts arose of whether the game could even be finished. Play was able to resume at 5:30 local time, but the second half failed to reach the excitement--and unintentional comedy, in the case of Milan--of the first 45 minutes.

Jovetic's 58th-minute goal was the highlight of the second half, with the Montenegrin flicking the ball past a Milan defender and finishing with his left foot. It was just another great move from the forward in a game filled with them.

In another one of the few exciting moments of the second half, two pitch invaders accosted Mario Balotelli as the game neared a conclusion. Two fans ran directly toward Balotelli, seemingly looking for a selfie with the Milan striker. For all of those who assume Balotelli lacks control, the former City player handled the uncomfortable situation quite well.

Pellegrini was able to provide a chance to give a lot of substitutes some time. Though he waited until around 60 minutes to make a change, the manager used seven substitutes, with Emyr Huws and Javi Garcia receiving the most minutes from the bench.

City's next game in the ICC will come in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday against Liverpool. Kickoff between the PL rivals is set for 7:00 p.m. EST.