Manchester City vs. AC Milan: Reactions from ICC Opener as City Run Riot

Alex Gruber@agruber6Featured ColumnistJuly 28, 2014

Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates his goal against AC Milan.
Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates his goal against AC Milan.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Manchester City opened their International Champions Cup campaign in some style in Pittsburgh, blowing away AC Milan by a 5-1 scoreline. 

City were up by a pair inside a quarter-hour thanks to Stevan Jovetic and Scott Sinclair and bagged a second pair in the next 15 minutes through Jesus Navas and Kelechi Iheanacho. Sulley Muntari tapped home just before half-time and Jovetic picked up his brace just short of the hour mark.

This sent Milan to their second large defeat of the tournament, having lost their opener 0-3 to Olympiacos. City, meanwhile, will have done their hopes of reaching the August 4 final in Miami no harm with a four-goal drubbing like this.

Besides the flurry of goals, there were a number of interesting happenings on and off the pitch. Notably, the second half of the match was delayed by about a half-hour due to a thunderstorm passing over Heinz Field that sent fans scurrying for cover.

Many of the 34,000-plus fans also complained in the second half about being forced to throw balls that went out of play back in. And just short of the full-time whistle, a pair of Rossoneri-clad pitch invaders nabbed a picture with Mario Balotelli before being whisked away.

Balotelli's debut against his former club was one of many storylines entering this match, and surely enough he made his first appearance of the preseason as a half-time sub.

He promptly received the second-half kickoff and lashed a shot at Willy Caballero in what might be "typical" fashion for the Italian, but it was a tame effort. Surely he was hoping to do a better impersonation of Miralem Pjanic than he ended up with. 

City made only a couple of changes to their starting XI from what they put out in the 4-1 win over Sporting Kansas City:

CITY XI v MILAN: Caballero, Clichy, Kolarov, Boyata, Nastasic, Fernando, Navas, Zuculini, Sinclair, Jovetic, Iheanacho #cityontour

— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) July 27, 2014

Karim Rekik and Micah Richards were replaced by Matija Nastasic and Gael Clichy respectively, repeating second-half substitutions made in the previous match.

Milan, on the other hand, rang in the changes from the set they put out against the Greek giants with the following group:

Our XI to face @MCFC: Agazzi; De Sciglio, Alex, Rami, Constant; Poli, Cristante, Muntari; Honda, Niang, El Shaarawy #weareinAmerica #ICC2014

— AC Milan (@acmilan) July 27, 2014

Just five of the 11, including M'Baye Niang, Stephan El Shaarawy and Adil Rami, were retained in the formation.

City got the match off to a flying start, scoring twice in quick succession before the quarter-hour mark.

First, Navas played in a sublime ball from the right flank, setting Jovetic free. The Montenegrin made no mistake, slamming home at the near post, though Michael Agazzi ought to have done better.

Barely two minutes later it was Clichy supplying the service from the wing, finding Sinclair in the box. The former Swansea man controlled and turned well before putting it past Agazzi. For much of the first half, it looked like the rout was on.

Milan's misery was compounded on 23 minutes as yet another ball whipped in from wide right found Navas in space on the left side of the box. The Spaniard went for a spectacular scissor kick, and his bouncing effort struck a defender, wrong-footing Agazzi on its way in.

Once again, City picked up a second in short order as Iheanacho, who changed his number from 72 to 67 for this match, scored with an effort not unlike Sinclair's. He got the ball in the area, turned around his man and found a way to get the goal.

Stevan Jovetic attempts to elude a Milan defender.
Stevan Jovetic attempts to elude a Milan defender.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The consolation for the Italians came shortly before the interval as a corner was headed down by the leaping Alex. Somehow, the slow-moving ball eluded Caballero and several City defenders before Muntari tapped in from inside a yard.

As mentioned before, a heavy thunderstorm delayed the start of the second half. No damage was done, and the storm passed by relatively quickly to limit the delay to the mere 30 minutes.

Jovetic's second goal at 58 minutes was the pick of the lot as he found his way into the box, clipped past a sliding defender with one touch and repeated the act on Agazzi with the next one. It was a continuation of a nice return to form for the 24-year-old, which ought to be important as Alvaro Negredo recovers from a broken foot.

Alongside Navas, the duo proved to be the stars of the show much as they were in Kansas City. Iheanacho also showed a lot more of his budding talent as we wait to see what happens with the young Nigerian.

Sky Sports is reporting that City are working toward confirming the youngster's future with the club. In the report, Manuel Pellegrini states: 

He has demonstrated what he can do in the future. It depends on the way he takes this profession, but I think he's a good talent.

We've not yet decided (what the plan is for him) because it's not easy. He's just 17 and sometimes that’s the problem. We’ll see what he will do in the future.

For the moment he will stay with us and we’ll see when we return to England what will happen with him. But he's a very important player for the future for the club.

After the tour we will see what happens with him. There are a lot of things to arrange to play in England but he has an important future.

The one worrying moment for City concerns Dedryck Boyata, who had to receive some treatment for a leg injury late in the second half before being substituted. Anything that requires extended time off would be a tough blow for the side's depth in central defense, even if Eliaquim Mangala does finally get signed.

In the end, Sunday saw a fantastic performance to keep City's good momentum going. They now head off to New York to take on Liverpool at Yankee Stadium on July 30. With the Reds defeating Olympiacos on Sunday, this clash will help bring order to the group standings.

If this performance is any indication, City will be ready for whatever Brendan Rodgers throws at them.


What are your thoughts on the match? Leave them below or hit me up on Twitter.


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