Saturday 27 July 2013
Manchester City claimed the 2013 Barclays Asia Trophy as Edin Dzeko's early strike earned Manuel Pellegrini’s side a narrow victory in the final at Hong Kong Stadium.
In a keenly contested affair, the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League champions were worthy winners even if they were unable to add to Dzeko's thunderous ninth-minute goal. Indeed the match might have been won by a greater margin had the Bosnia striker not fired a second-half penalty over the crossbar.
Dzeko broke the deadlock early on when he capitalised on Wes Brown’s attempted headed clearance by unleashing a ferocious left-footed shot from the edge of the area that left Vito Mannone with no chance.
Sunderland had started well but perhaps chastened by falling behind, almost conceded again two minutes later when Alvaro Negredo burst on to David Silva's pinpoint pass only to blaze his shot over after demonstrating great control under pressure.
As the conditions worsened, with the rain growing heavier by the minute, Sunderland threatened sporadically with new signing Emanuele Giaccherini, showing some neat touches in midfield, attempting an 18th-minute curler that Vincent Kompany deflected wide and forcing a save from Costel Pantilimon six minutes before the restart.
But it was City who looked the likeliest to score in the first half, Dzeko and the recently arrived Negredo suggesting glimpses of a potentially formidable strike partnership. The former might have scored on the half-hour mark when he tried another thumping shot from distance that Mannone held well, while moments later Negredo latched on to Dzeko's pass to send a shot on the turn narrowly over.
Paolo Di Canio's men almost fell further behind on the stroke of half-time when Craig Gardner came close to scoring an own goal, the midfielder sending a header against his own post as he tried to clear Silva's curling free-kick.
Chances were few and far between in the second half until City were awarded a penalty on 65 minutes for a handball by El Hadji Ba, but Dzeko squandered the chance to score his third goal of the tournament by clearing the bar with his side-footed attempt.
City continued to threaten as debutant Jesus Navas forced a save out of half-time substitute Kieren Westwood, and the Spain international came even closer with 14 minutes remaining when Samir Nasri raced away on the counterattack, squared the ball to his team-mate only for Navas’s goalbound shot to be cleared off the line by Gardner.
The Black Cats hoped to force a penalty shoot-out when Sebastian Larsson struck a fierce free-kick but Pantillimon parried and City held on to claim their first Barclays Asia Trophy success.