Manchester City and Al Ain in action at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium. Image Credit: Gulf News

Al Ain: Newly-crowned English Premier League champions Manchester City secured a comfortable 3-0 win over Al Ain in a friendly match to inaugurate the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Thursday.    

Marcos Lopes opened City’s account just past the hour mark when he ran onto Samir Nasri’s through-ball and struck left of the keeper, before Nasri again played supplier with ten minutes remaining to allow Stevan Jovetic through on goal. Jordy Hiwula then added a late third from the penalty spot.   

Al Ain had started brightly with Mohanad Salem heading just wide of the post from Omar Abdul Rahman’s cross inside ten minutes. Omar and Mohammad Abdul Rahman then took turns to play each other into space, creating two clear cut chances, which were both chipped over the crossbar.

City, up until that point, had been reduced to taking pot shots from range with Aleksander Kolarov, Matija Nastasic and Marcos Lopes all testing Al Ain keeper Waleed Salem from distance.

One such long shot from Lopes took a heavy deflection and almost crept into the top corner before the half hour, but substitute keeper Nawaf Al Khaldi just got a hand to it.

The near miss gave City the confidence to work their way back into the game before the interval, as the visitors came perilously close to breaking the deadlock. Micah Richard’s effort came back off the upright and then Samir Nasri volleyed a cross over the bar from close range.

Al Ain came back in from the break refreshed and immediately had a double effort on goal with Mohammad Salem’s shot blocked by keeper Richard Wright. The rebound fell as far as Fawzi Fayez who hit his follow-up over. Moments later Shehab Ahmad curled a free kick just wide after Deryck Boyata brought down Esmail Matar on the edge of the area.

Spurred on by their home support Al Ain’s urgency increased on the hour with Boubacar Sanogo hitting just wide from Rami Yaslam’s cross. But by cruel irony City caught their advancing opponents on the counter and Nasri’s through ball finally enabled Lopes to give City the lead after the hour.

Lopes should have made it two moments later but he hit wide from Kolarov’s cross.

Al Ain attempted a comeback, but when Adil Jamal found himself unmarked at the back post Wright was quick to clean up.                   

City’s counter-attacking style continued to prove supreme with Boyata barging his way through the defence only to shoot wide. But they made up for it 10 minutes from time when Steven Jovetic ran onto to Nasri’s chip and rounded the defence and keeper to make it 2-0.    

Mohammad Al Sahlawi missed the perfect opportunity for consolation when he tapped Yasser Al Qahtani’s header over the bar, and Jovetic hit a chance wide in a late flurry of chances.

The best of those chances saw Al Ain’s Soufian Al Aloudi hit the left post with moments to spare. But the home side’s fate was sealed before the whistle as Sultan Al Ghaferi was adjudged to have brought down Jordy Hiwula in the box, Hiwula punishing his actions from the spot.