A beautiful evening for soccer may not have been enough to pack the “House that Bonds Built” on the San Francisco Bay waterfront, but storied teams Manchester City of England and Club América of Mexico put on a great show of the beautiful game for the 11,250 in attendance at AT&T Park for the 2011 World Football Challenge stop in Northern California. Behind two first half goals from City’s Ryan McGivern and Shaun Wright-Phillips, the Blue Boys from Manchester defeated the Mexico side 2-0.
Against a Club América team that came out flat to start the match, Manchester City quickly asserted themselves in the attacking half behind forward Edin Džeko. The Bosnian forward used his significant height advantage to keep América’s defensive back four on their heels, and he directly affected the run of play on both City goals.
In the 17th minute, with a ball loosely cleared to the right byline by América, Wright-Phillips turned his defender and had a clean look on goal. He elected to square the ball into the six-yard box for forward Džeko, who was behind the goalkeeper but shadowed closely by a defender. A smart challenge from the Club América player saw the ball squirt out toward the left top edge of the area, where McGivern found just enough space to collect the ball and strike it back on target. With the goalkeeper flat-footed getting back into position, the ball nestled inside the far post for the opening goal of the game.
In the 27th minute, City doubled their lead through a clinical strike from Wright-Phillps. Džeko, who won possession of the ball near the edge of the area, sent a strong pass to his midfielder teammate. Taking a quick look around for someone to dish the ball to, Wright-Phillips saw a shooting channel open up, and he coolly finished to the far post.
“I saw a glimpse of goal, and I thought I would try and get a clean strike in,” shared Wright-Phillips in the postgame press conference. “Normally I would pass in that position, but I got the shot off and it went in.”
The first half continued in City’s favor, but América goalkeeper Armando Navarrete implored his defensive line to step up their game, and they delivered. Save the first 30 minutes of the match, Club América held their own against the defending FA Cup Champions.
“When we play a game of this level,” said Navarrete through a translator, “we have to be a serious team. A team that plays with a lot of energy like we do in Mexico.”
Offensively, the Mexico side did little to test Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, who needed to make only one save in 45 minutes of work. With many possessions limited to the middle third of the pitch, Club América never found the space to concern the City defenders, and the match entered halftime with Manchester City comfortably ahead 2-0.
After wholesale substitutions to start the second half, the game evened out, with América getting the better of City in the opening 10 minutes. Twice, new ‘keeper Stuart Taylor was called to parry the ball away from danger, but it was clear that Club América was fired up for the game’s second stanza.
As the game approached its conclusion, América twice had great opportunities to find their first goal of the match. In the 85th minute, in a sequence that elevated the noise of the predominantly Mexican crowd, an audacious overhead kick attempt from Raul Jimenez missed the target and drifted laterally to the goal. Taking the ball on the full volley, Daniel Marquez tried to direct the ball past Taylor, but his shot went over the crossbar. The crowd was buzzing, but the score remained 2-0 in favor of Manchester City.
In the 88th minute, a strong shot on target was spilled by Taylor back in the path of the América forwards, and the ‘keeper was forced to dive in strong to win the 50/50 ball. Instead, the ball squirted out again, and defender Vincent Kompany saved his teammates blushes with a convincing clearance.
As the game drifted into injury time, City nearly picked up a third goal, but a counterattack fell just short as John Guidetti fired a low shot off the far post for the game’s final play. With the final score at 2-0, both sides left the field to the appreciative applause of everyone in attendance.
2011 World Football Challenge
Manchester City FC vs. Club América
July 16, 2011 — AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
Scoring Summary: MCFC — Ryan McGivern (unassisted) 17; MCFC — Shaun Wright-Phillips (Edin Džeko) 27.
Misconduct Summary: MCFC — Frederic Veseli (caution) 32; CA — Juan Carlos Medina (caution) 34; MCFC — Edin Džeko (caution) 43.
Manchester City FC — (TBD).
Statistics: Shots: 10; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 3; Fouls: 19; Offside: 5; Corners: 3.
Club América — (TBD).
Statistics: Shots: 8; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 2; Fouls: 10; Offside: 3; Corners: 2.