Sergio Aguero scored the first goal of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City on Thursday, as they beat Borussia Dortmund 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their International Champions Cup clash at Longgang Stadium in Shenzhen, China.
Both teams squandered chances in a goalless first half, before the two managers made a plethora of changes at the break. As is frequent in these pre-season matches, each side struggled to find an attacking groove, but Aguero capped off a wonderful passing move 11 minutes from time.
It looked set to be the winner until Christian Pulisic struck in the final minute of stoppage time. Penalties decided the match, with substitute goalkeeper Angus Gunn making three saves to hand City an extra point.
The early exchanges were not without chances, although profligate finishing prevented either team from getting on the scoresheet.
The majority of opportunities came the way of the Bundesliga club. Ousmane Dembele capitalised on a mistake from Willy Caballero and drove at the City defence, but Nicolas Otamendi swooped in to block well.
City’s goalkeeper gifted another chance to Dortmund with a poor pass not long after, although the impressive Emre Mor couldn’t find the target; Caballero didn’t look like a stopper at ease with his new manager’s distinctive playing style, per Jack Pitt-Brooke of the Independent:
Meanwhile, the best chance for the Premier League side fell to midfield man Fabian Delph, as he latched on to a pull-back from Jesus Navas and fired wide on his weaker right side.
As James Ducker of the Daily Telegraph noted, City weren't looking too convincing in the opening 30 minutes, and Guardiola was far from pleased:
Before the break, the lively Kelechi Iheanacho spun away from his marker in the penalty area, although the onrushing Roman Burki smothered the striker's shot well. It was the last significant action before the interval, as the players trod off, shirts sodden, in the Shenzhen heat.
It was no surprise to see plenty of changes made at the break, with some illustrious names entering the field. For Dortmund, Shinji Kagawa and Gonzalo Castro were introduced, while City called on the attacking cavalry of Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure.
Even with an influx of offensive talent on the field, both teams were struggling to click in the early stages of the second half. Indeed, as the BVB Twitter feed noted, with no goals after an hour, the supporters at the stadium sought to entertain themselves:
City slowly started to come strong in the contest. Silva was threaded through before being controversially flagged offside, and then Wilfried Bony fired over on the turn from the edge of the area.
The best chance of the game fell to Castro 15 minutes from time, but he couldn't lift his shot over City stopper Angus Gunn when through on goal. They were left to rue the miss, too, as the Premier League side carved their opponents open to take the lead.
Aguero applied the finishing touch, but brilliant play from Silva and Aleix Garcia scythed through Dortmund down the left flank, leaving the Argentina international with a simple tap-in.
On Twitter, MCFC Info was impressed by the free-flowing move:
Despite losing the late goal, Dortmund continued to pile forward, and Kagawa had what looked a stonewall penalty appeal waved away. The German side were not to be denied, though, as they struck in the 95th minute through Pulisic.
He fired in through a crowd of players, and Gunn's legs, in the 95th minute to send the match to penalties. Here's a look at it, per Sky Sports Football:
It meant the match was decided by penalties. Both teams had their first kick saved, before they each started to find the net frequently. With the score at 6-6, Burki stopped Raheem Sterling's effort, although Dortmund's Jacob Bruun Larsen spurned the chance to win it, with Gunn parrying.
And it was the City goalkeeper who proved to be the hero of the day, as he plunged low to his left to keep out Mikel Merino's kick, handing his team victory.
Fitness was clearly the order of the day for both of these teams, with the suffocating humidity having a debilitating effect on the players. Both Guardiola and BVB boss Thomas Tuchel will be hoping their squads benefit from this draining exercise later in the campaign.
Turning the spotlight on to City, it’s clear that some members of the squad will find it difficult to adapt to the blueprint their new manager is seeking to implement. Aguero, despite looking a little rusty, gave an early glimpse into the kind of difference he can make for Guardiola's side in the upcoming campaign.
Afterwards, per the City Twitter account, Guardiola spoke about the performance and potential transfer targets: