Manchester City got the better of Chelsea once more in another high-scoring friendly encounter in the United States as they ran out 5-3 winners at New York’s Yankee Stadium.
After City won 4-3 in St Louis 48 hours earlier, defending again took a back seat as both Premier League sides put on an entertaining spectacle in a venue that could yet host the recently announced Major League Soccer side, New York City FC, backed by Manchester City’s owners as well as the stadium’s hosts.
A strong City lineup appeared keen to make an impact on the near 40,000 strong crowd and were gifted an early goal from Gareth Barry before Samir Nasri added a second just before the half-hour mark. While Chelsea pulled one back through Ramires just after the break, they would never get closer than within one goal of their Premier League rivals, despite a second goal for Ramires and a fine free-kick from Juan Mata late on. City’s second-half goals from James Milner, Nasri and Edin Dzeko were enough to keep them in front.
While Manchester City’s interim manager Brian Kidd selected a virtually full strength side, his opposite interim number Rafael Benitez named several youngsters. And that appeared in evidence in the opening minutes as City swarmed on their opponents’ goal, with Chelsea all at sea at the back.
Within three minutes they went in front courtesy of a gift from Oscar. The Brazilian played a slack back pass straight to the feet of Sergio Aguero and, while the Argentinean’s effort was blocked by back-up goalkeeper Hilario, Barry was on hand to slide the ball home.
Moment s later City could have doubled their lead but Pablo Zabaleta failed to take advantage of more uncertainty in the Chelsea backline. It was an open game at both ends and Chelsea were also creating their fair share of chances. Demba Ba’s effort found the side netting, but fooled half the enthusiastic crowd into thinking that it had gone the right side of the post.
The extra bit of quality was on show in City’s ranks, though. In the 29th minute two of their most gifted players David Silva and Nasri combined to double their side’s lead. Silva supplied the perfectly weighted through ball and Nasri provided a delightful chipped finish over the floored Hilario.
In Benitez’s final match in charge, there were cheers from the New York based Chelsea supporters for Jose Mourinho, who is widely expected to return to Stamford Bridge. One of the first jobs for whoever the new manager is will be to decide on the future of Fernando Torres. Although he had a fine scoring performance in the Europa League final, the captain for the night here was not enjoying the best of evenings.
His touch and passing too often let him down as did his finishing as he lashed wide of the near post from the right of the box. And when the Spaniard did head the ball in the net from Oscar’s corner the goal was ruled out as a second ball had been thrown into the penalty area from behind the goal.
The half ended with something spectacular as young Nathan Ake stepped forward into space 30 yards from goal and unleashed a stunning effort that beat Joe Hart but came back off the angle of post and bar.
Both managers decided to replace their goalkeepers at half time and City’s substitute Richard Wright’s first job was to pick the ball out of his net. A wonderful ball over the top of the City defense from Luiz saw Ramires run clear before rounding Wright and finishing into the unguarded net. But the former England goalkeeper, who has yet to make a competitive appearance for City, had his revenge minutes later when he blocked a chipped effort from the Brazilian.
Another of City’s half-time substitutes made his impact in the 55th minute. Milner exchanging passes with Dzeko down the right of the box before thumping a low drive into the far corner past Petr Cech.
Torres was able to make a positive contribution to get Chelsea back into proceedings as he turned and crossed for Ramires to tap home at the far post and make it 3-2. But again City had just too much and forged back into a two-goal advantage courtesy of more sublime skill from a player that often frustrated previous City manager Roberto Mancini. Nasri this time cut inside from the left, exchanged passes with Dzeko, before feinting stylishly past Ake and again finishing with a little chip, this time with Cech the victim.
In a rare appearance together, Torres’ strike partner Ba was also not having the best of times in front of goal and blazed poorly over when well positioned. With John Terry and unused substitute and Frank Lampard having gone home early for international duty, one of the loudest cheers of the day had been reserved for the introduction of Chelsea’s player of the season, Juan Mata. And with nine minutes left on the clock, the skillful Spaniard showed why he was so deserving of such acclaim as he curled a sublime free-kick into the top corner.
But, as in St Louis, City would have the final say as Dzeko grabbed his third goal of the mini-U.S. tour, striking a low shot from 25 yards that Cech was slow to get down to and found the bottom corner.