Manchester City opened their new 7,000 capacity Academy Stadium on Sunday with an impressive 5-1 victory over Schalke in the Premier League International Cup, making them favourites to qualify through the group that also includes Leicester City and Benfica.
With fireworks and fire welcoming City onto the pitch, Patrick Vieira’s young side were not daunted by the atmosphere and gave the bumper crowd a warm welcome. Playing in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium, the English side started brightly and put the Germans to the sword.
The home side took the lead after just seven minutes and the goal had a very French feel to it. 18-year-old Olivier Ntcham picked out a lovely left-foot cross towards the back post and Thierry Ambrose met it perfectly to open City’s account.
The game was only 10 minutes old when City doubled their lead, this time Ambrose turned provider. The 17-year-old Frenchman slipped in Jose Pozo, the Spanish forward left the keeper stranded when he squared the ball to Ntcham and he did the rest.
Schalke were stunned by the quick start and didn’t seem to have an answer to the pace of Ambrose down the right and just after 20 minutes it was 3-0. Ambrose opened up space for George Evans and his cross from the right made it all the way to Brandon Barker on the opposite side, the winger fired home with his left foot.
City took their foot off the gas and Schalke managed to get a goal back before half-time, Pascale Tadaski beating Angus Gunn to the ball after the ‘keeper had saved a powerful shot from distance.
The second period wasn’t the same spectacle as the first; Schalke tried to get back into the game, but failed to really trouble the City back line. With 30 minutes to go, Jack Byrne put the game beyond the visitors. Controlling a cross from the left, the midfielder cushioned the ball before smashing it low into the bottom corner.
Late on, two of City’s substitutes combined to make it five, Ashley Smith-Brown’s cross squirmed its way into the path of the sliding Jordy Hiwula. That was the icing on the cake for what was a commanding, impressive home performance.
After the game Coach Patrick Vieira was proud of his young side and the way they reacted to the crowd.
"They were really excited, there was excitement all week when we prepared the game and the players were looking forward to the game. That’s why I was quite pleased because they responded well," Vieira told HITC.
"We stuck to our principals and it’s a good experience for them."
The Academy Stadium will be the new home for both the Elite Developmental Squad and Manchester City’s Woman’s team and if they follow the benchmark they set against Schalke; the future looks bright at Sportscity.