Jack Grealish’s Manchester City debut was spoiled by Kelechi Iheanacho as the Leicester striker’s late penalty clinched a 1-0 win in the Community Shield on Saturday. All eyes were on Grealish when he came on as a second half substitute following his British record 100 million pound ($139 million) move from Aston Villa on Thursday. After training with his new team-mates for the first time on Friday, Grealish replaced Sam Edozie in the 65th minute and looked lively in his cameo appearance.
Grealish, the most expensive English player of all-time, carried more threat than any of his team-mates.
But Grealish’s first game in a City shirt ended in disappointment as Iheanacho netted the last minute winner from the penalty spot after the Nigerian was hauled down by Nathan Ake.
Defeat in the annual curtain raiser to the English top-flight season will matter little to City if they can replicate last term’s superb form, which carried them to Premier League and League Cup glory.
But the Champions League runners-up start their title defence at Tottenham on August 15 with an unsettled look that will concern Pep Guardiola.
With Guardiola admitting City’s interest in Tottenham striker Harry Kane on Friday, it was notable that his team lacked the kind of cutting edge the England captain would surely provide.
Persuading Tottenham to sell for less than their 150 million pound ($208 million) asking price remains City’s hope, but they might be advised to splash on the evidence of this largely toothless display.
Admittedly, City were without Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden after the playmakers both suffered injuries at Euro 2020.
With several other City stars resting from Euro and Copa America duty, Guardiola fielded a weakened team featuring teenage debutant Edozie and fellow academy graduate Cole Palmer.
For Leicester, their second Community Shield triumph — and their first for 50 years — showed they can build on last season’s maiden FA Cup victory.
Three months after beating Chelsea in the final, Leicester were back at Wembley nursing a defensive injury crisis before the season has even started, with Wesley Fofana, James Justin and Jonny Evans all sidelined.
Brendan Rodgers did have Harvey Barnes back for the winger’s first appearance since February after a serious knee injury.
Barnes showed no signs of rust as he drew a good save from Zack Steffen with a stinging low drive.
City had threatened early on when Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick was superbly tipped over by Kasper Schmeichel.
But Leicester looked the more cohesive unit in the first half and Steffen saved alertly from Jamie Vardy’s close-range flick.
It might have been a friendly, but Guardiola’s frustration at City’s struggles boiled over when he was booked for an angry rant at the fourth official after Palmer was penalised for a foul.
Vardy was inches away from opening the scoring when he met Barnes’ cross with an agile half-volley that was pushed onto the post by Steffen.
Grealish warmed up to huge cheers early in the second half before wild finishes from Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez wasted good chances to put City ahead.
City fans got their wish with 25 minutes left when Grealish was introduced to huge cheers.
Grealish, wearing the number 10 shirt, got plenty of touches as he glided around the final third in search of space.
The most fouled player in the Premier League last season thought he had won a free-kick on the edge of the area after an incisive burst, but Paul Tierney waved play on.
An astute pass from Grealish picked out Bernardo Silva’s run into the Leicester area, but his team-mate’s cross wasn’t up to scratch.
Despite Grealish’s class, it was Leicester who finished with the trophy thanks to Ake’s blunder.
Caught in possession by Iheanacho, Ake clearly tripped the striker, conceding a penalty that the Leicester star drilled high into the net.
/ 5 months ago
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