Manchester City’s attacking prowess impressed at Villa Park, even if the Citizens failed to really spark into life until after Branislav Ivanovic’s straight red card in the 42nd minute. Yaya Touré showcased his excellent eye for goal when he angled in a low strike from the edge of the box to cancel out Fernando Torres’ opener in the 40th minute. Carlos Tévez then put Roberto Mancini’s men ahead with a sumptuous right-footed drive, before Samir Nasri flicked Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross past Petr Cech to make it three. Substitute Ryan Bertrand pulled one back for the 10-man Blues but it was to be nothing more than a consolation. Four out of five of the last Community Shield winners have gone on to win the Premier League title in the season that followed, the only team having failed to do so were Manchester United last term. And although both sides still showed glimpses of pre-season rustiness, Mancini’s men held on to seal their first piece of silverware and lay down a marker for the season ahead.
In the build-up to Sunday’s clash, Roberto Di Matteo had insisted Torres is under no pressure to fill Didier Drogba’s boots this season following the Ivorian’s departure to Shanghai Shenhua. But whether his manager is prepared to publicly admit it or not, Torres knows he must now deliver. The £50m Spain international enjoyed something of a renaissance towards the end of last season, and ended up with the Euro 2012 golden boot – even if most of his contributions came from the bench. He got his 2012-13 season off to the perfect start on Sunday with a well-taken goal in the 40th minute at Villa Park, confidently dinking his finish over Costel Pantilimon. Daniel Sturridge, who looked on from the bench as Torres put the Blues ahead, has spoken of his desire to fight for regular playing time this term and will need no second invitation to snap up Torres’ first-team place should the Spaniard falter. But on this solid display the Spaniard looks determined to finally prove his worth at Stamford Bridge.
Many things about Tévez have been called into question over the last 12 months but few can doubt his quality on the pitch. The Argentina international, who returned from his self-imposed exile towards the end of last season to help City win the Premier League title, always produces when called upon and Sunday’s game was no exception. He fired Mancini’s men into the lead at Villa Park with an unstoppable strike from the edge of the box as he escaped the attentions of David Luiz. The 28-year-old, who has netted 56 goals in 98 games for City since his move across Manchester, will no doubt be a key asset for Mancini this term. The obvious question is, how will the Italian be able to keep Tevez, Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Eden Dzeko happy?
Chelsea new-boy Eden Hazard showed sparks of brilliance at Villa Park but will need time to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League. The Belgium international joined the Blues following the most tedious of transfer sagas in a £32m deal from Lille. A price-tag of that magnitude is sure to weigh heavy on the shoulders of a 21-year-old and the forward is already under pressure to live up to his star billing. His worst moment on Sunday came when a calamitous attempt at a back-heel in the City half left him red-faced and on the floor. His best, signs of good vision, pace, and a rasping effort from distance in the 29th minute. Di Matteo admitted Hazard will need to be patient as he settles into life in England and Sunday’s showing appears to underline that view.
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