Athens (Greece), August 17: Manchester City secured their maiden UEFA Super Cup title on Wednesday, albeit needing a penalty shootout to overcome Sevilla following a 1-1 draw in Athens.
Sevilla initially took the lead through Youssef En-Nesyri’s commanding header during the first half.
Despite not being at their fluid best, European champions City managed to level the match, forcing a penalty shootout with Cole Palmer’s header.
Executing flawlessly from the penalty spot, City emerged triumphant in the shootout, winning 5-4 as Sevilla’s Nemanja Gudelj struck the crossbar.
Pep Guardiola voiced his concerns about his team’s inadequate pre-season preparation, a sentiment that manifested on the field in the scorching Greek capital.
City sorely felt the absence of the creative duo Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, sidelined due to injuries and illness respectively.
The prolonged absence of De Bruyne due to a serious hamstring injury compounded the void left by Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez’s diminished impact from the previous season.
Rumors linking West Ham’s Brazilian star Lucas Paqueta to Etihad Stadium gained traction, and this performance accentuated City’s need to reinforce their squad before the transfer window closes.
Sevilla commenced their La Liga campaign with a disappointing 2-1 home defeat against Valencia. Nonetheless, much like last season, when they secured their seventh Europa League title despite a middling league finish, they rose to the occasion.
Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou likely played his final match for the club, anticipating a move to Saudi side Al Hilal. Bounou denied City an early advantage with a crucial save against Nathan Ake’s forceful header, destined for the bottom corner.
However, Guardiola’s side progressively lost their grip on possession, leading to their undoing in the 25th minute.
Making his first start for City after a €90 million move from RB Leipzig, Josko Gvardiol was outdone by En-Nesyri, who directed a powerful header into the net from Marcos Acuna’s cross.
City’s sluggishness persisted into the second half, evident as Lucas Ocampos eluded Kyle Walker’s desperate tackle to set up En-Nesyri with a golden opportunity to double Sevilla’s lead.
Yet, En-Nesyri squandered the chance, shooting straight at Ederson’s legs when one-on-one with the Brazilian goalkeeper.
Sevilla’s missed chance came back to haunt them, as City responded against the flow of the game in the 63rd minute.
Riyad Mahrez’s departure paved the way for City academy graduate Cole Palmer, who embraced his first-team opportunity. The England under-21 international, who had previously netted against Arsenal in the Community Shield, capitalized on Rodri’s pinpoint cross with a deft header past Bounou.
En-Nesyri’s profligacy was evident again as he failed to convert another one-on-one, with Ederson making a crucial block.
Erling Haaland, a consistent scorer against Sevilla in past encounters, found minimal opportunities before the shootout.
City’s closest chance to secure victory within regular time came via Ake’s downward header, but it was tipped over.
The shootout provided the climax, with Haaland, Julian Alvarez, Mateo Kovacic, Jack Grealish, and Walker all converting their penalties to give City the edge. (Agencies)