HONG KONG: Manuel Pellegrini picked up his first piece of silverware as Manchester City manager on Saturday in Hong Kong, but it came at a potential cost with centre-half Matija Nastasic stretchered off.
Edin Dzeko’s spectacular volley from outside the box on nine minutes — his second goal in two games — was enough to edge City past a dogged Sunderland 1-0 and give them the Barclays Asia Trophy.
But the dire condition of the pitch at the 40,000 sell-out Hong Kong Stadium — where Manchester United play on Monday — will again come under the spotlight after the Serbian Nastasic became the second Premier League player to fall victim to the treacherous conditions after days of heavy rain.
Key Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen faces a race to be fit for the start of the Premier League season in three weeks after injuring his ankle in a 3-1 defeat to Sunderland at the same venue on Wednesday.
There was no immediate information as to the seriousness of Nastasic’s injury.
Earlier, a ruthless Spurs eased to a 6-0 romp over a hopelessly outclassed South China with Jermain Defoe scoring a hat-trick.
In front of a watching Manchester United manager David Moyes, Defoe made light work of an awkward surface that had large amounts of sand thrown on it and had players slipping and sliding dangerously.
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said he was pleased to come through the fixture with no more injuries.
“Everything was perfect today and I am extremely happy by the way we finished (the tournament),” he said.
“Today was much better, not only physically, but also the football we played was really pleasant,” added the Portuguese, who again refused to say if Spurs had received any offers for star man Gareth Bale, reportedly the subject of intense interest from Real Madrid.
Bale did not play any part in Hong Kong because of a muscle strain but is only days away from a return.
“We really played well throughout,” said Villas-Boas. “The full-backs played excellent and kept pushing forward, both (Kyle) Walker and Danny (Rose). It was good to see Defoe coming back to this level of a deadly striker, while also assisting, which shows an unselfish part of his game, which is really good.”
Clint Dempsey — set up by Defoe — and substitute Andros Townsend also scored, after an own-goal had put Tottenham on their way.