EDIN DZEKO’S sweet strike proved sufficient for Manchester City to get the better of Sunderland and lift the Barclays Asia Trophy, reports Chris Young in Hong Kong.
Dzeko’s ninth minute half-volley was the only goal of a game which remained a decent spectacle despite the atrocious condition of the Hong Kong Stadium pitch.
City could easily have added to their advantage - Dzeko spooning a second half penalty high and wide before Craig Gardner cleared Jesus Navas’ effort off the line.
The closest Sunderland came to an equaliser was a late Seb Larsson free-kick.
Paolo Di Canio named an unchanged side from the one which beat Spurs 3-1 in the semi-final, with new boys Vito Mannone, Cabral, Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini again all included in the starting line-up.
New Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini made five changes from the semi-final, with Costel Pantilimon, Javi Garcia, David Silva, Matija Nastasic and summer signing Alvaro Negredo all included.
Sunderland began positively - Wes Brown glancing on Seb Larsson’s inswinging free-kick in the fifth minute with a header that was well wide of the far post.
But with their first forray into Sunderland’s territory, City broke the deadlock in the ninth minute through Edin Dzeko’s sweetly-struck half-volley from the edge of the area.
Wes Brown’s clearing header only went as far as Dzeko, loitering in the D, and the ball sat up perfectly for the Bosnian, who wrapped his left-footed around it and powered it inside the near post.
Negredo should have doubled the advantage in the 12th minute when Negredo beat the offside trap, but as he bore down on Vito Mannone’s goal, he skied a left-footed shot over the bar.
Dzeko had another sight of goal on the half-hour mark when he met James Milner’s right-wing centre with a first-time right-footed shot from 16 yards that was straight at Mannone.
City stopper Costel Pantilimon was forced into a save six minutes before the interval when Altidore pulled the ball back to Giaccherini on the edge of the area.
Giaccherini tried to place a right-footed shot into the far corner, but it was at a comfortable height for Pantilimon who plucked it out of the air.
The woodwork denied City a second on the stroke of half-time, as David Silva’s free-kick from the right was headed towards his own goal by Craig Gardner, only for it to come back off the far post.
Di Canio made three changes at the interval with Keiren Westwood, Connor Wickham and El-Hadji Ba all introduced to the fray at the expense of Mannone, Cabral and Altidore.
Neither side managed to muster any goal threat in the early stages of the second half, yet in the 65th minute, City were awarded a spot-kick.
Ba was penalised for handball as he attempted to get out of the way of Samir Nasri’s flick.
But Dzeko’s subsequent penalty was a horror show, the striker skying it horribly high and wide of the goal.
Westwood had to be alert in the 72nd minute when Jesus Navas struck a right-footed shot from the right-side of the area which took a nasty deflection off the sodden turf and required the Sunderland stopper to parry at his near post.
Five minutes later, Sunderland had another narrow escape after the Black Cats were left two-on-one at the back.
Nasri squared the ball to Navas down the right of the area, whose shot beat Westwood, but not Craig Gardner, who cleared off the line.
The closest Sunderland came to a late leveller was in the 84th minute when Seb Larsson struck a low free-kick from the edge of the area which was well pushed away by Pantilimon.
FULL-TIME Manchester City 1 Sunderland 0
MANCHESTER CITY: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic (Lescott 75), Clichy (Kolarov 62), Milner (Navas 46), Garcia, Toure (Fernandinho 62), Silva (Nasri 46), Dzeko, Negredo (Barry 79). Subs not used: Wright, Rodwell, Boyata.
SUNDERLAND: Mannone (Westwood 46), Gardner, Brown, O’Shea, Colback, Johnson (Moberg Karlsson 61), Larsson, Cabral (Ba 46), Giaccherini (McClean 76), Sessegnon (Mandron 88), Altidore (Wickham 46). Subs not used: Pickford, Vaughan, Cuellar, Roberge.