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VIDEO: Man City suffer surprise loss in opening pre-season friendly

Despite fielding several first-team players, Roberto Mancini’s men lost 1-0 to Al Hilal.

Roberto Mancini (file photo).
Roberto Mancini (file photo).

MANCHESTER CITY FELL to a shock 1-0 defeat in their opening pre-season friendly against Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal in Innsbruck on Friday.

Nawaf Al Abed provided the only goal of the game in the second half, firing into the corner after being afforded too much space by the English Premier League champions’ defence at Tivoli-Neu.

City fielded a handful of first-team regulars, including Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure and captain Vincent Kompany, but Al Hilal kept them largely quiet for the opening period, except for Aleksandar Kolarov’s early saved effort which was the only shot on target in the first half.

Both teams forged early chances, though in truth failed to truly threaten in a cagey opening half.

Toure looked to have put young striker Luca Scapuzzi clear through on 25 minutes but offside was called, a decision that appeared wrong on replay.

Al Hilal, too, were the recipients of an unfortunate refereeing decision when the assistant failed to see Youssef El-Arabi, flying in from the left-hand side onto a useful through ball, was being played on by a City man.

The Saudis came close again moments later when Kompany executed an excellent block, his second such key interception of the half.

Toure was beginning to come into his own and nearly created an excellent opportunity with a surging run through the middle, though the move ended with Adam Johnson’s wayward pass.

City’s Omar Elabdellaoui squandered a brilliant chance 10 minutes after the break, jumping for a Jeremy Helan cross and nodding into the ground to see the ball bounce up only just wide of the far post.

There was barely another hint of goalmouth action until the 68th minute.

City got bunched up in defence as the Saudis came forward, leaving space left of centre for Al Abed to shoot.

His effort was reasonably powerful but young goalkeeper Eirik Johansen, who got a hand to it as it went in, could have done more to keep it out.

Johansen did better a few moments later, however, to stand firm and force a corner and as Al Hilal took complete control of the game, City’s youthful 11 struggled to shut them out.

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