Man City blunder dampens Grealish debut, as Leicester lift Community Shield
A costly blunder from Nathan Ake ensured the Man City debut of Jack Grealish was a losing one as Leicester lifted the Community Shield at Wembley.
A youthful Man City side took the field as record signing Jack Grealish was named on the bench for the Community Shield against Leicester. Teenagers Cole Palmer and Sam Edozie started for the champions along with goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
FA Cup winners Leicester, without injured defenders Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, James Justin and Timothy Castagne, gave a debut to Ryan Bertrand. Fellow summer signings Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare were among the substitutes.
City threatened to break the deadlock inside seven minutes when Ilkay Gundogan produced a sparkling free-kick effort. The ball was tracking for the top corner, but Kasper Schmeichel scrambled across his line quickly to palm the ball out for a corner.
Riyad Mahrez looked sharp after having the rare luxury of a summer free from international football. The Algerian raced away on the counter after Benjamin Mendy’s through ball, but Caglar Soyuncu got back well to block his shot.
Leicester finally found joy in an attacking sense down the right when Ricardo Pereira broke free. His cut-back to Youri Tielemans was immediately shifted onto Ayoze Perez who could only muster a tame effort from close range.
Both sides were playing at a high tempo in contrast to many Community Shield clashes of recent years. The traditional new season curtain-raiser had the feel of a hotly-contested competitive match as the half-hour mark approached.
A glorious opportunity came and went for City youngster Edozie after the starlet’s snatched shot flew harmlessly wide. The best chance of the half, however, would fall to Jamie Vardy.
Harvey Barnes picked out the frontman unmarked at the far post. Vardy contorted his body to drag the ball slightly behind him goalward before the diving Zack Steffen deflected the ball onto the post.
What a save from Zack Steffen! 🧤
The American keeper denies Jamie Vardy with a fabulous point-blank save
📺 @ITV #CommunityShield | #LEIMCI pic.twitter.com/ElOPKwYVkP
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) August 7, 2021
Mahrez squandered an opportunity to give his side the lead after the break. Set free with a three-yard headstart, the winger was forced wider than he would’ve liked by the retreating Wilfred Ndidi and Ricardo Pereira and could only blaze his striker over the bar.
A roar then erupted around the stadium as the most expensive signing in English football history was introduced to the action. With the scores still locked at 0-0, Guardiola hoped Grealish could unlock the door as he so often did for Aston Villa.
Grealish picked out a handful of incisive passes after taking up his customary position on the left. But just three weeks after Euro 2020 concluded, the playmaker lacked his usual explosiveness with the ball at feet.
Rodgers wasted little time in springing his changes and handed debuts to Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare.
Clear-cut chances became increasingly infrequent as the fitness levels of each side were tested. With 10 minutes remaining, the familiar sight of a penalty shoot-out at Wembley was looming on the horizon.
Mercifully, the dreaded shoot-out looked set to be avoided when Nathan Ake felled Kelechi Iheanacho inside the area after dawdling in possession.
Iheanacho assumed the penalty-taking responsibilities with Vardy already subbed and slotted his strike into the top corner despite Steffen getting a hand to the ball.
That would prove to be the decisive action of the match as Leicester held on to lift the Community Shield at Wembley.