Neither Bruno Zuculini or Kelechi Iheanacho are fully-fledged Manchester City players just yet, but both were on the scoresheet as the Premier League champions got their US tour off to a winning start at Sporting Park.
Zuculini will officially join City once the Premier League ratify the Argentine’s £1.5million move from Racing Club, and highly-rated Nigerian striker Iheanacho can only loosely be referred to as a triallist after earning a place on the flight to America during last week’s training camp in Scotland.
The teenager came through the Right to Dream programme in Ghana, which has close links with City, and starred in last summer’s Under-17 World Cup.
Dedryck Boyata and Aleksandar Kolarov were the other scorers as City eased to victory over the current Major League Soccer champions. Most of Pellegrini’s star players were still missing but there was another outing for new signings Willy Caballero and Fernando as well as some who might not be at the club much longer, such as Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair, Matija Nastasic and Javi Garcia.
The banners that read ‘Kansas City Cauldron’ and ‘Welcome to the Blue Hell’ made out as though City were about to face Galatasaray, not their friendly hosts from America’s mid-West.
In fact, the promise of a hot reception extended no further than the temperature which had topped 110 degrees on Tuesday and was still far from comfortable by the time the match kicked off on Wednesday evening after the obligatory national anthems, fireworks and, finally, a video of some of Sporting’s finest moments.
City made something of a mockery of the tub-thumping build-up when they opened the scoring after just two minutes, however. The ball fell kindly for Zuculini on the edge of the area and the Argentine applied a clinical finish by hooking a volley inside the post.
City should have restored their lead in the 38th minute when Karim Rekik’s long ball set Stevan Jovetic free on goal but he dithered with only Gruenebaum to beat and Aurelien Collin, once of Wrexham and Gretna, got back to make a vital challenge.
The Premier League side were not to be denied though and grabbed a second on the stroke of half-time when Jesus Navas won a freekick which he swung in from the right for Boyata to power in a header from close range.
Kansas again threatened an equaliser in the second period – not least when Caballero produced a reflex save to keep out Michael Kafari’s effort – but City made sure of victory when Kafari brought down Scott Sinclair and Kolarov comfortably converted from the spot before Iheanacho added a late fourth with a cool finish.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY: Gruenebaum; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Olum, Lopez, Feilhaber; Sapong, Dwyer, Saad.
Scorer: Sapong 30
MAN CITY: Caballero; Richards (Clichy 45), Boyata, Rekik (Nastasic 75), Kolarov; Navas, Fernando (Garcia 65), Zuculini (Huws 75), Sinclair; Iheanacho (Denayer 90+1), Jovetic (Guidetti 65).
Subs not used: Wright, Lawlar, Leigh, Rodwell.
Scorers: Zuculini 3, Boyata 45, Kolarov pen 73, Iheanacho 89