July 31, 2013
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If you didn't think a preseason friendly at the Audi Cup between Manchester City and AC Milan would be worth your time, well, you had another thing coming.
The two teams exploded for eight goals in the first half in a breathtaking display, with Manchester City ultimately holding on for a 5-3 victory.
Take a deep breath, folks, because the goals are about to come fast and furious.
Manchester City struck immediately, scoring in the third minute, and it was set up by two of the new guys.
Jesus Navas sent in a cross from the right of the box, which found Stevan Jovetic. He sent an effort toward goal which David Silva intercepted and deflected past the keeper for the game's first tally.
Jovetic nearly doubled the score in the eighth minute, finding space in the right of the box and screaming an effort across the face of goal. Unfortunately for him, it skittered just wide.
But the Citizens did double their lead in the 19th minute.
Yaya Toure played Micah Richards through down the right flank with a brilliant through ball, and the defender was off to the races. With a clear path to shoot in the box, his first effort was blocked, but he followed the rebound and managed to nick the ball into the net.
But Aleksandar Kolarov had no desire of letting his fellow fullback be alone on the scoresheet, adding his name in the 22nd minute.
After Jovetic headed the ball down off a scramble in the midfield, he made a strong run forward and laid the ball off to Kolarov, streaking to his left. Kolarov seemed to briefly consider sending in a cross before lowering his head and ripping a shot that found the right side of the net.
Even had the shot veered wide, Dzeko was at the back post for the easy tap-in, so Kolarov was covered.
The complete and utter domination continued in the 32nd minute.
After an AC Milan turnover, Navas again raced down the right flank, this time ripping a low cross across the goal. Dzeko was there to meet it, as he was poorly marked and broke free ahead of his defender for the easy tap-in.
Try to catch your breath because City made it five goals just three minutes later.
This time, Yaya Toure lofted a pass into the box for Dzeko, who trapped it on his chest, turned and ripped home a volley. It was a brilliant pass, brilliant control from Dzeko and, yes, a brilliant finish.
Brilliance all around, folks.
But just a minute later, AC Milan decided to join the scoring fray.
Stephan El Shaarawy broke free on the left side and froze Joe Hart with a bouncing shot across the face of goal that rolled into the side netting.
In the 39th minute, El Shaarawy earned the quick brace and cut City's lead to three.
This time, El Shaarawy picked up the ball in the box after it appeared that one of his teammates had been fouled in the box. While the rest of the players seemed to freeze, the Italian international kept playing, deked Joe Hart and easily scored.
But why stop there? Andrea Petagna would make it three for Milan in the 43rd minute, because why the heck not?
Petagna beat the offside trap and nutmegged Hart, turning a blowout into a a competitive match.
The game would go into the half with City leading 5-3, and one question on everyone's minds—could the two teams possibly duplicate that blistering pace in the second 45?
No, of course not, as both managers cycled through their benches, interrupting the insane pace of the first half. But it certainly wasn't boring.
Samir Nasri nearly struck in the 55th minute after substitute keeper Gabriel completely muffed the ball on the ground, but the angle was too tight for Nasri and his chipped effort dribbled harmlessly wide.
Kevin Prince-Boateng nearly struck three minutes later, breaking into the clear down the right side, but Hart made a brilliant save with his right leg to maintain the two-goal lead.
Hart would again stymie AC Milan in the 67th minute, this time making a fine save on an Andrea Poli attempt as the midfielder was found in the box.
In the 79th minute, Alvaro Negredo ripped a shot from just outside of the box, but his blast hit the crossbar and bounced free of the goal.
That would do it from the Allianz Arena, as both teams came close in the second half but were kept off the scoresheet.
Stevan Jovetic and Jesus Navas, Manchester City: A
The new Citizens were brilliant, with two assists each. Jovetic was a handful in the middle of the pitch, making smart runs forward and posing a constant threat, while Navas displayed his quickness and technical prowess out wide.
Early on, the two new fellows look quite good.
Stephan El Shaarawy, AC Milan: A
El Shaarawy essentially got Milan back into this match after City had sprung for five goals, showing he knew what to do with the ball once he got a hold of it in the box. He probably could have had three or four goals in this game, in fact, so he may be somewhat disappointed there. But for a player who really dropped in form late in the 2012-13 season, this performance should help him find his mojo again.
Edin Dzeko, Manchester City: A
He sure looked like a man ready to seize the first-team striker role. As usual, his positioning was fantastic, his twisting volley was the highlight of the match and his work rate was superb. He's going to make Sergio Aguero and Negredo really work to earn a spot as the primary forward.
Manchester City awaits the winner of the Bayern Munich versus Sao Paulo match—spoiler alert, it's going to be the Bavarians—while AC Milan will take on the loser.
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