City issues Premier League reminder
Manchester City continues to find ways to win trophies in dramatic fashion.
The defending Premier League champions defeated Chelsea 3-2 Sunday to win the Community Shield for the first time in 40 years. By happenstance, the last time they raised the Shield, way back in 1972, it was on this very same turf at Villa Park.
The Community Shield is the traditional curtain raiser to the soccer season in England which pits the previous years’ title winners against the FA Cup winners. Although City did not need a dramatic last second goal to capture this crown as they did to win the Barclays Premier League championship in May, this game was a nail-bitter until the final whistle.
Down 1-0 entering the second half but up a man thanks to a red card to Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in the 41st minute, City took advantage by pummeling their opponents– scoring a trio of goals in the space of 10 minutes — to earn their first trophy of the new season.
Manchester City opened up the scoring in the 55th minute when James Milner hit a cross into the Chelsea box that was poorly cleared by John Terry right to the feet of Yaya Toure. Last season’s MVP hit a strike from the outside of the box straight into the back of the net.
Just three minutes later, one-time want-away Carlos Tevez gave his team the lead for good by firing home a stunning blast into the top left corner, before Samir Nasri made it 3-1 after putting a boot to an Aleksander Kolarov pass past Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Cech.
But City’s portion of the 36,934 crowd at Villa Park had to stop celebrating early and went into nail-biting mode when Costel Pantilimon misplayed a shot, allowing substitute Ryan Bertrand to slot home the rebound and make it 3-2 with 11 minutes remaining.
The champions had several chances to add to their lead in the remaining time, but despite being unable still went on to grab the silverware.
It was an eerily familiar scenario for City, who dominated at the start of the match, yet were unable to capitalize before Fernando Torres gave Chelsea the lead in the first half.
"I’m unhappy, it’s normal. Every manager is unhappy if one week from the season they haven’t bought any players, but we are working this week," said City manager Roberto Mancini after the game.
"We are looking for other players. I’m waiting at this moment and I think tomorrow we will talk about other players (with sporting director Brian Marwood)."
Although it is still a preseason friendly, the result was the fourth consecutive loss for the defending FA Cup and European Champions Chelsea – which bolstered its team in the offseason with purchases of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Kevin de Bruyne and Oscar to offset losses of key players like Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.
Of those Chelsea additions, only the highly coveted Hazard appeared in Sunday’s match – playing 70 minutes before being substituted by goal-scorer Bertrand. It was an inauspicious debut, notable mainly for a dive that should have earned him a card, followed then by a badly-muffed backheel that left him covered in egg.
Also notable was the reception that Terry got from stands: it was withering, with the one-time England captain greeted with a torrent of abuse every time he touched the ball. Terry, who was acquitted of racist abuse of QPR defender Anton Ferdinand this July, was nonetheless reminded of the case early and often. It is not the reception he or his manager Roberto Di Matteo would have hoped for.
After the game, Di Matteo conceded that City were the title favorites, noting that his team had finished last season 25 points adrift and had a lot of work left to do to close that gap.
“Are City still the team to beat? Absolutely,” he said. “They are the favorites, no doubt about it, and United will be chasing City as well.
“They’ve kept the squad together, a strong squad. I’m not sure if they’ll make more signings, but they’re a strong team.”
The Barclays Premier League season begins in earnest next weekend. City will look to defend their championship. Should they prevail, they will become only the eighth team in 21 years to win the Community Shield and the championship in the same season.
Jorge Andres Mondaca is a senior editor for FOXSports.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @JorgeMondacaFOX.