Raheem Sterling watched on from the stands as Manchester City claimed a 1-0 friendly victory over sister club Melbourne City courtesy of a brilliant late volley from Samir Nasri.
Sterling completed his protracted record transfer to the Etihad Stadium from Liverpool on Tuesday, and was an interested onlooker as his new team-mates put on a superb display in an entertaining game at the Cbus Super Stadium in Gold Coast.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men were clearly a class above their A-League opponents, who had an excellent goalkeeping performance from Tando Velaphi to thank for keeping them in the match until the closing stages.
But there was nothing Velaphi could do about the winning goal four minutes from time, as Nasri expertly controlled a cross from the right before lashing an unstoppable volley into the top corner from 15 yards.
The first half was played at a tempo not usually associated with pre-season fixtures, but it did not take long for the Premier League side to assert themselves and take control.
The outstanding Yaya Toure went closest to breaking the deadlock for the tourists 20 minutes in with a trademark, curling free-kick that crashed off the crossbar.
Melbourne were struggling to cope as Toure and co moved through the gears, and Jesus Navas forced Velaphi into a fine save down to his right on the half-hour mark.
But for all of Manchester City’s dominance, Melbourne should have been ahead soon after when Stefan Mauk missed the best opportunity of the match.
An incisive breakaway from John van’t Schip’s side ended with a low cross-shot by Robert Koren, which Mauk somehow contrived to put over the bar from little more than three yards with Willy Caballero stranded.
Toure continued running the show after the break, but more heroics from Velaphi – who denied Bruno Zuculini and Nasri in quick succession – kept the scores level.
It was always going to take something special to beat Velaphi, and Nasri provided just that in the 86th minute.
The Melbourne keeper managed to get a hand to the Frenchman’s stinging, rising volley, but his effort simply had too much power and gave the tourists the win their performance merited.
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