Manchester City won their first and only Champions Cup friendly in China against Borussia Dortmund in Shenzhen on penalties, after a 1-1 draw in regulation thanks to goals from Sergio Agüero and Christian Pulisic. After a great first half on the defensive side, City stepped up their offense in the second half, and Pep Guardiola can be very excited about the future of his squad, regardless of the result.
Two things stood out from the first minute: the pitch was slippery, and the marking was great. Because of that, both teams had a lot of trouble with the ball and very few scoring chances were created in the first half. From a tactical standpoint, the high pressing from City worked to perfection, and Dortmund were never comfortable to build from the back.
But the opposite was also true, and that's where City suffered. Willy Caballero just couldn't pass the ball, and the center-backs had a lot of trouble finding the midfielders. The possession game wasn't as sharp, and the only time City were dangerous was when Kelechi Iheanacho touched the ball.
In the last minute, though, we saw the first glimpse of a Pep Guardiola side. City kept the ball and patiently built from the back, with everyone getting involved in the passing and the ball going from wing to wing to eventually open spaces in Dortmund's defense. After a minute-long buildup, Fernandinho found Iheanacho alone in the box, and if it wasn't for a great save from Bürki, the Nigerian would've scored the first goal of the Guardiola Era just the way Pep likes it.
At halftime, plenty of positives without the ball, plenty of negatives with it, but a clear potential for improvement with better players in the second half.
Guardiola brought out his biggest stars, and boy did it work to perfection. City instantly began to dominate possession, creating chances through David Silva, Bony and Agüero. Dortmund defended a lot more, and the high pressing from City earned them results, and after a beautifully worked team play, Sergio Agüero bagged an easy tap-in, scoring the first goal of the Pep Era.
In the last play of the game, Christian Pulisic equalized and we went to penalty kicks. After 16 attempts, Angus Gunn saved Mikel Merino's penalty and won the game for City.
In the end, a very good second half performance that is very promising for the future and the potential of this team under the world's greatest coach.
Man City: Caballero (Gunn) | Adarabioyo, Otamendi (Maffeo), Kolarov (Angelino) | Navas (Silva), Fernandinho, Fernando (Toure (Sterling)), Clichy (Denayer) | Zinchenko (Aleix García), Delph (Agüero) | Iheanacho (Bony (Nolito))
Goal: Agüero (79')
Borussia Dortmund: Bürki | Ginter (Merino), Bartra (Larsen), Sokratis (Bender), Schmelzer (Passlack) | Rode (Castro), Sahin (Bumic) | Mor (Pulisic), Leitner, Dembele (Kagawa) | Ramos (Hober)
Goal: Pulisic (90+'5)