Manchester City defeated Club America 2-1 in Houston as a result of two precise goals from Kevin De Bruyne, giving them a winning start to the preseason.
The majority of Pep Guardiola’s traveling squad played in the occasionally tumultuous friendly on the challenging surface, while Erling Haaland was still waiting for his debut.
This friendly might have been thousands of miles away from Manchester but Jack Grealish must have felt right at home. Scythed down by the opposition at every opportunity and relentlessly booed by the home crowd: this could have been any given Premier League ground.
Grealish has a big second season on the horizon and showed a real desire to make an impact, even if this was merely the first friendly tour. The referee, Armando Villarreal, certainly knew of his existence, with the pair often deep in conversation about penalty appeals.
He was hacked down at the end of a mazy run, where he took three Club America defenders out of the game, and constantly barracked. Grealish showed purpose, dropping into dangerous pockets, but could not escape rough treatment – some of which the broadcaster inside the NRG refused to show on the big screen.
Perhaps that will serve him well for the months to come. Guardiola will be impressed by the way in which the winger continued to persevere.
De Bruyne is again City’s talisman
Kevin De Bruyne picked up from where he left off. Two goals – the first a curling effort from 20 yards, the second a more instinctive run and slide underneath Guillermo Ochoa – indicated that he is in the mood to add even more this term.
Last year was De Bruyne’s most prolific of his career with 19 goals – 15 of which coming in the Premier League – after there came a real drive to make sure the Belgian’s starting position is more advanced than ever before.
That could see him play up almost alongside Erling Haaland, feeding off the Norwegian, this season. His directness makes him look comfortable in those pockets.