City down Roma at MCG
Melbourne, July 21
Record signing Raheem Sterling took just over two minutes to score his debut goal as Manchester City beat AS Roma on penalties in the International Champions Cup in Melbourne today.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart made two late saves as Manchester City won 5-4 after the penalty shootout at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Sterling, the most expensive English footballer in history, took just two minutes and 17 seconds to open his account for the big-spending English club.
He showed his explosive pace to swoop on a defence-splitting pass from Kelechi Iheanacho to leave Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis flailing and slot the ball into the empty net. While Sterling’s much-anticipated first appearance in the sky blue was the major talking point, the 2014 English Premier League champions showed plenty of attacking promise for the season ahead.
The 20-year-old Jamaican-born Londoner completed his move to Manchester City from Liverpool last week in a five-year deal worth an initial £44 million that could rise to $76 million. The Italians equalised just five minutes after Sterling’s strike in spectacular fashion. Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic let fly with a 20-metre thunderbolt into the top right corner. Sterling had a big shout for a penalty turned down when he was brought down by Alessandro Florenzi midway through the opening half, but Australian referee Jared Gillett waved play on.
Roma had three quickfire scoring chances before the break, with Vincent Kompany lunging to deny Francesco Totti, Eliaquim Mangala clearing another and Daniele De Rossi putting a header over the bar. Manager Manuel Pellegrini took Sterling off at halftime along with the influential David Silva, introducing Samir Nasri, Aleksandar Kolarov and Yaya Toure into the game.
Nigerian teenager Iheanacho put Manchester City ahead again on 51 minutes when he zeroed in on an awful back pass by former England international Ashley Cole to coolly beat De Sanctis from close range. But Serbian Adem Ljajic threw the Italians a lifeline when he beat Joe Hart with his free-kick in the 87th.
Hart proved Man City’s hero, with saves off Seydou Doumbia and Seydou Keita to get the English club home. Manchester City will attempt to go on and win the three-way ICC tournament when they take on 10-time European champions Real Madrid in the final match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday. Roma beat Real Madrid 7-6 on penalties after the opening ICC game finished scoreless on Saturday.