Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Pellegrini loses first game as City boss

Manuel Pellegrini changed his entire team at half-time
Manuel Pellegrini changed his entire team at half-time

Manuel Pellegrini's first game as Manchester City manager finished in a 2-0 pre-season friendly defeat against SuperSport United in Pretoria.

Fernandinho was given a starting berth at Loftus Versfeld and the tourists looked strong in the first half, but could not find the breakthrough. Pellegrini changed the entire XI at half-time, and the hosts needed only 11 minutes after the restart to break the deadlock.

Senegalese striker Mame Niang rose highest to nod the opener past Costel Pantilimon in the 56th minute, with a neat finish from South African forward Kermit Erasmus sealing matters nine minutes from time.

There was further disappointment to come for the Barclays Premier League runners-up, when Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure limped off in the 83rd minute. City continue their pre-season programme with a game against AmaZulu in Durban on Thursday night.

Arsenal enjoyed a much more successful start to their tour of the Far East, hammering an Indonesia All Stars XI 7-0 in Jakarta. England forward Theo Walcott slammed home the opener after 19 minutes, before the floodgates opened after the interval.

Chuba Akpom slotted home nine minutes after the restart and Olivier Giroud's quickfire brace stretched the Gunners' advantage to 4-0 by the 73rd minute. Lukas Podolski, Kristoffer Olsson and Thomas Eisfeld added their names to the scoresheet in the final eight minutes to seal the rout.

Aston Villa recorded their third successive 1-1 draw on their pre-season tour of Germany as they were held by Bochum. New signing Nicklas Helenius grabbed his second goal in three matches to put Villa ahead two minutes into the second half.

However, they were denied a win late on when Yusuke Tasaka smashed an equaliser past goalkeeper Jed Steer, another recent arrival in the Villa squad.

Everton's pre-season preparations did not start well as they fell to a 2-1 loss at Austria Vienna. In what was manager Roberto Martinez's first match in charge, two goals from Marko Stankovic after 14 and 37 minutes did the damage for the Austrian champions.

Greek striker Apostolos Vellios' reply seven minutes before the interval sparked hopes of an Everton fightback, but they were unable to add to their tally.

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