Emanuele Giaccherini

Manchester City 1 Sunderland 0

Published:
by Stuart Vose

Dzeko strike settles Barclays Asia Trophy final.

An early goal saw Manchester City run out winners against Sunderland in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong.

City notched what proved to be the decider nine minutes in thanks to a fine finish from Edin Dzeko – his second goal of the tournament.

Manuel Pellegrini's side struck the post in the final moments of the first half and missed a penalty just after the hour as Dzeko blazed off-target from 12 yards.

The Black Cats' best opportunity came six minutes from time, when City keeper Costel Pantilimon did well to parry a free-kick from Seb Larsson which looked set to creep inside the far post.

City may have collected the silverware, but Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio can reflect on a useful spell in the Far East ahead of the new Barclays Premier League season.

His side certainly didn't lack for effort in the heat and humidity and they are clearly a side with fitness at its heart.

The Italian opted to name an unchanged line-up following the win over Spurs, while City made five alterations to the team which beat South China 1-0 in midweek.

The crowd made it clear that they were behind Sunderland from the off and the Black Cats responded with a couple of early chances within the first five minutes.

Stephane Sessegnon's trickery saw him swerve beyond Vincent Kompany and tee up Adam Johnson, but the pass was just a little too long and the winger couldn't get a shot away in time.

Then Wes Brown – a local favourite – got his head on a free-kick 14 yards out, but his deft flicked effort drifted over the waiting pack of players and crept wide.

Di Canio's side looked bright but City hit back, creating a well-taken goal with their first attack of the match.

Brown's clearing header fell to Dzeko on the edge of the box and the Bosnian dispatched a bullet of a shot in off the post with Vito Mannone at full stretch.

The lead should have been doubled soon afterwards when Alvaro Negredo sneaked away from John O'Shea, but the frontman could only fire wide with only Mannone to beat.

City's front pairing looked a dangerous proposition, with Dzeko attempting an ambitious drive from way out on the left which Mannone dealt with comfortably.

But Sunderland continued to look to get forward, with Emanuele Giaccherini unlucky to see a curling effort deflected behind by the covering Kompany after a lovely first touch from Jozy Altidore created the opening.

Mannone had to be alert again on the half-hour, saving well down low after Dzeko met a cross from the right first time 12 yards out.

City, playing patient possession football, kept Sunderland at arm's length although keeper Pantilimon was called into action six minutes before the break, saving away to his right after Giaccherini shot goalwards from the edge of the box.

Pellegrini's side were inches away from a second goal with the last action of the first half. David Silva's free-kick, delivered to the back post, was inadvertently headed goalwards by Craig Gardner, who was grateful to see the ball strike the base of the upright and bounce away.

Half time saw Di Canio make three changes, replacing Mannone with Keiren Westwood while Altidore and Cabral made way for Connor Wickham and El Hadji Ba.

City, meanwhile, introduced new signing Jesus Navas along with Samir Nasri at the break. The early stages of the second half were unremarkable and mostly confined to midfield with neither side able to engineer any openings.

David Moberg Karlsson – a scorer in the win over Spurs – replaced Johnson on the hour before City spurned a golden chance to double their advantage soon afterwards.

Ba's handball on the left-hand edge of the area gave Dzeko the chance to score from the penalty spot, but the striker blazed well off-target.

The forward looked somewhat forlorn at the miss but he continued to persist, blasting a shot across goal 19 minutes from time before Westwood parried away a shot from Navas which took a slight deflection.

At the other end, Giaccherini tumbled under a challenge in the box, but referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved despite the cries of the crowd.

Giaccherini was then replaced by James McClean, and the little Italian can reflect on another useful fitness-building exercise following his move from Juventus.

City did manage to get beyond Westwood with 13 minutes to play as Nasri set up Navas on the counter-attack, but Gardner raced back to hack the goalbound shot off the line.

Sunderland's best chance to force penalties came six minutes from time when Larsson tested Pantilimon with a low free-kick which the keeper did well to palm away.

Youngster Mikael Mandron replaced Sessegnon for the final couple of minutes as City played out the remaining time before being crowned as the fifth club to win the Barclays Asia Trophy.

There's been plenty of positives to take for Sunderland fans, though, with the start of the season now fast approaching.

Sunderland: Mannone (Westwood, 46), Gardner, Colback, Brown, O'Shea (c), Larsson, Cabral (Ba, 46), Johnson (Moberg Karlsson, 63), Giaccherini (McClean, 76), Sessegnon (Mandron, 88), Altidore (Wickham, 46).

Subs not used: Pickford, Vaughan, Cuellar, Roberge.

Man City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy (Kolarov, 63), Nastasic (Lescott, 75), Kompany (c), Garcia, Toure (Fernandinho, 63), Milner (Nasri, 46), Silva (Navas, 46), Dzeko, Negredo (Barry, 79).

Subs not used: Rodwell, Boyata, Wright.

Att: 39,544