MAN CITY 4, BARNSLEY 0
With Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish reported to be on the verge of a British record £100 million move to Pep Guardiola’s side, Manchester City’s different pre-season build-up continued with an emphatic victory against Championship club Barnsley behind-closed doors.
With the now traditional summer overseas tour out of the question because of the Covid-19 pandemic, City have so far ventured no further than their Academy Stadium.
Home wins against Preston North End and Barnsley, both from the second tier of English football, have so far provided the opposition.
City, still without many of the big-hitters who were on duty at the Euros or Copa America, had some unfamiliar names of the scoresheet, Sam Edozie and Ben Knight along with the more familiar Riyad Mahrez and Nathan Ake.
Senior players continued to drip feed back from international duty with seven named in the starting line-up.
Zack Steffen, Ruben Dias, Ake, Benjamin Mendy and Mahrez provided the backbone to the team while youngsters Edozie, Cole Palmer, James McAtee and Knight joined them.
And with Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko, also back from the Euros on the bench, City had plenty of experience in reserve.
After an uneventful opening quarter of the game, City took control by scoring three goals in a deadly 11-minute spell.
Mahrez provided the assist for the opening goal in the 23rd minute with a cross from the right which eluded the entire Tykes’ defence for pacy winger Edozie, 18, signed from Millwall two years ago, to fire home.
It was 2-0 on the half hour when Cancelo played a return pass with Mahrez and provided a low cross from the right for Knight, 19, signed for £1 million from Ipswich Town in 2018, to slot home from close range.
Mendy delivered a pinpoint cross from the left for Mahrez to convert with a fiercely struck angled half volley.
City ought to have scored more than three first-half goals as Knight fluffed a great chance in front of goal, slicing his effort well wide while Palmer had a penalty saved by Brad Collins. It was awarded when Palmer was fouled by Cauley Woodrow as he cut in along the by-line.
But the penalty jinx extends beyond City’s first team as Palmer was the latest in a long line of players to fail to find the net from 12 yards.
Collins made a super double save to deny substitute Morgan Rogers and Mahrez soon after the restart.
Barnsley’s first goal attempt on target came on the hour, a speculative drive from Woodrow which forced a decent diving save from Steffen.
City made two changes at the break and a further four just after the hour when Gundogan and Zinchenko made their entrances.
A fourth City goal arrived in the 68th minute after another excellent build-up.
Rogers cut the ball back from the by-line and Pablo Moreno’s back heel found Ake who slotted home from inside the six-yard box.