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The Premier League champions Manchester City showed that they will be hard to beat this season too with an impressive 2-0 victory over Arsenal on a rather wet evening in Beijing. City won the game on the back of two late first-half goals from Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta.
Both teams had arrived in the Bird's Nest Stadium after unimpressive opening friendlies and although Arsenal managed a late fight-back to beat a Malaysian XI 2-1, City conceded their first game to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal 1-0.
Today's game was dull for most parts and the continuously pelting rain only slowed down the tempo of the game further. The opening goal came courtesy some good work from Manchester City youngster Nir Biton, who rampaged down the left wing past Carl Jenkinson before making a neat pass to Yaya Toure. The Ivorian then passed the ball to the on-rushing Argentine fullback Pablo Zabaleta who slammed the ball the ball past Lukasz Fabianski into the bottom-left corner to hand City the lead.
City's advantage was doubled just three minutes later when Kolarov slipped past Jenkinson and tore down the left wing to flick the ball to Aguero, but the Argentine failed to take a decent shot under pressure from the Arsenal defence. His weak shot made its way towards Toure who did well to slip the ball into the net under the arms of Fabianski.
Arsenal attempted to overturn the deficit in the second half with some good possession play but failed to open up the formidable City defence. Manchester City stopper Pantilimon, who Arsenal fans will remember from a Carling Cup appearance against them, made a number of top-class saves to deny Arsenal a lifeline. The Gunners sorely missed their star forward Robin van Persie and his presence would certainly have had a telling effect on the game today.
Arsene Wenger started with a rather experienced squad but handed the responsibility of a comeback to the younger stars later on in the game. However, his gamble failed to pay off as City picked up their first win of the pre-season at the expense of the Gunners.
While pre-season friendlies don't really reflect how the season is likely to proceed, Arsenal would have dearly liked to have got something from this game against a side that they will need to compete with if they are to seriously challenge for honours this season.
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