Manchester City kicked off preparations ahead of the 2023/24 season with a friendly clash against fellow City Football Group side Yokohama F Marinos in Japan.
Proceedings began in typical pre-season friendly fashion, as both sets of players looked to retain periods of possession and figure one another out, implementing a ball-focussed style of play that is synonymous with sides across the City Group.
However, it was the hosts who broke the deadlock as the clock approached the half hour mark, with Anderson Lopes slotting home a rebounded effort. 10 minutes later, and the Japanese side doubled their lead courtesy of a sensationally calm finish from Ken Matsubara.
That goal seemingly sparked Manchester City into life, with John Stones curling home excellently from a Julian Alvarez lay-off inside the penalty area, before the Argentine would score the equalising goal just three minutes later with Kalvin Phillips claiming the assist after closing down Jun Ichimori in the Yokohama goal.
Yokohama F Marinos and Manchester City would go into half-time with the scoreline finely poised at 2-2, with Pep Guardiola making 10 changes at the break in typical pre-season friendly fashion – bringing on the likes of Ruben Dias, Rodri, and Erling Haaland.
City’s changes seemingly sparked a flurry of second-half goals, and largely more domination from the treble winners, with just seven minutes separating him coming on and Erling Haaland scoring his first goal of the new campaign.
Rodri would then move Manchester City into a two-goal lead, replicating his memorable Champions League final goal by sliding home a right-footed effort from distance into the bottom-right corner of the Yokohama net.
Kenta Inoue would bring the hosts back within touching distance of their opposition with four minutes of normal time remaining, after Rico Lewis and Stefan Ortega Moreno getting into a confusing situation in defence, presenting the Marinos forward with a clear and obvious opportunity to slide home.
However, there would be no such come back, as Erling Haaland would take his tally for the season to two with seconds remaining, slotting home an outstanding Joao Cancelo cross as the Portugal international registered his first goal contribution for the club since returning from a six-month loan at Bayern Munich.
It is the German side whom Manchester City will take on next, as the two sides go head-to-head on Wednesday night in Pep Guardiola’s second of three warm-up matches before the competitive season gets underway with a Community Shield clash against Arsenal at Wembley.
Stefan Ortega: 6
Comfortable when in possession of the ball, as expected from the Manchester City goalkeeper, but could arguably have done better with some of the goals conceded – particular on a communication front with Rico Lewis for Yokohama’s third.
Kyle Walker: 6
A largely comfortable performance from the captain on the night, playing a role in the build-up to John Stones’ goal, and offering much-needed pace during defensive situations.
John Stones: 7
An excellent goal at a crucial period in the game for Manchester City, taken expertly from a man who is certain to be one of Pep Guardiola’s first names on the teamsheet… and in midfield, too.
Manuel Akanji: 6
Struggled during one action, but a largely commendable performance in possession and provided much-needed passes from defence into midfield to breakthrough Yokohama’s line.
Nathan Ake: 6.5
Offered some excellent defensive moments when called upon, whilst offering sending a headed effort crashing off the crossbar. Unfortunately, he will have been disappointed with his contributions during Yokohama’s first-half goals.
Kalvin Phillips: 5.5
An underwhelming start to his second season with the club, but somewhat redeemed himself by closing down Yokohama’s goalkeeper to create the chance for Manchester City’s equalising goal.
Mateo Kovacic: 6
Fitted into Manchester City’s system well given the time in which he’s had to train under Pep Guardiola. The City boss was complimentary of the Croatian in his post-match comments, and he can only improve from here.
Cole Palmer: 6.5
At the centre of most of Manchester City’s first-half chances, showing plenty of danger when driving forward with the ball confidently, and was perhaps unlucky to not score after forcing the Yokohama goalkeeper into a save low to his left.
James McAtee: 6
A standard return to the Manchester City way of life for the young midfielder, offering plenty in the way of strength in midfield and not shying away from the brutal challenges that often come with senior first-team football. Signs of a player who has certainly developed during his season with Sheffield United.
Julian Alvarez: 6
A goal on his return to Manchester City action, and the usual high-pressing to accompany his performance. However, mostly struggled to get the service he would have liked to have more of an impact on the attacking side of the game.
Jack Grealish: 6
Had most of Manchester City’s attacking phases of play going through him, but struggled to create much when he had the ball, but that wasn’t without trying.
Joao Cancelo: 7
A brilliant return to action for Manchester City after the dramas of last season, and showed exactly what the club may have been missing when he presented a pin-point cross into the path of the onrushing Erling Haaland for the fifth goal.
Ruben Dias: 6
The usual commanding performance from the man widely being tipped to become Manchester City’s next captain following the exit of Ilkay Gundogan.
Aymeric Laporte: 6
Not much to write home about but certainly contributed to more of Manchester City’s composed play in defence, and offered an action on the more traditional, tough tackling side of the game.
Sergio Gomez: 6.5
Offered something different on the left for Manchester City, providing crosses into the box and a more attacking presence in the final third in comparison to Nathan Ake.
Man of the Match for us with his presence at the heart of midfield, and an exceptional goal to add to his performance. Expect another stellar campaign from the Spaniard, as he goes from strength to strength in all facets of his game.
Rico Lewis: 6
Comfortable as usual, but will have his overall performance and rating let down by the mistake for the goal that allowed Yokohama a route back into the contest late on.
Bernardo Silva: 6
Energy in abundance from the Portugal international, who sported a new look buzz cut in the middle of the park. Manchester City will certainly be hoping to cling on to Silva as his legs will be crucial to any success this season.
Oscar Bobb: 7
A very exciting outing from the young Norwegian, who may have finally broken into Pep Guardiola’s first-team plans this season, adopting the space potentially being vacated by Cole Palmer this summer.
Erling Haaland: 7
Two goals, what more can you say? This is just the norm for the striker now.
Phil Foden: 6
Look very promising in a more central role, and could just do with fine-tuning his passing range before becoming a very dangerous option for Pep Guardiola in the middle of the park. Should have scored.
Maximo Perrone: 6
Replaced Bernardo Silva midway through the second-half, and looked sharp. Unsure what the future holds for the Argentina international this summer, but could certainly excel at one of Europe’s top sides who are realistic options for him on loan, including City Football Group’s Girona.
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