Mahrez the bright spark in City's youthful side

Club-record signing Riyad Mahrez made his debut for Manchester City in the International Champions Cup match against German side Borussia Dortmund at the Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago on Friday. The Algerian came close to scoring with a 20-yard fr
Club-record signing Riyad Mahrez made his debut for Manchester City in the International Champions Cup match against German side Borussia Dortmund at the Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago on Friday. The Algerian came close to scoring with a 20-yard free kick that was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Dortmund goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO • Riyad Mahrez offered a glimpse of what he can bring to Pep Guardiola's title-winning Manchester City side despite the 1-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund on Friday in the opening match of this year's International Champions Cup tournament.

The £60 million (S$107 million) club-record signing from Leicester City was making his debut for his new employers and played 72 minutes. He came close with a 20-yard free kick that was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Dortmund goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.

Besides the 27-year-old Algerian star, Guardiola also fielded German Leroy Sane but his otherwise highly inexperienced, young team were unable to get the better of a Dortmund side who have already played one game this summer and looked far sharper with captain Mario Gotze's first-half penalty proving to be the difference.

His winner came in the 28th minute when American international Christian Pulisic was hauled down in the box, allowing the midfielder who famously scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final to beat Claudio Bravo.

With the bulk of his senior players enjoying an extended break after their exertions at the World Cup, Guardiola said his team played well, despite not having a lot of time to train together.

"It was really good for their futures because we played one of the best teams in Germany and we did many good things," he said.

"We spoke in the week about courage, intensity and a desire to play. The players did very well and I am so satisfied with the performance of these guys."

There was a healthy crowd of 34,629 inside Chicago's Soldier Field Stadium and, although a young City side held their own early on, Dortmund created the better chances, with Gotze pulling the strings together with Pulisic.

Mahrez was City's best player and showcased his attacking threat with a decent run and cross midway through the first half.

But the German side went ahead when Alex Zinchenko, who is set to leave the club before the start of the English domestic season, brought down the lively Pulisic in the box. Gotze then beat Bravo from the spot before Alexander Isak almost scored a second soon after.

Joe Hart, the former England goalkeeper, was making his first City appearance since August 2016 but it was opposite number Hitz who was almost beaten on 55 minutes when another Mahrez set piece flew just past the post.

The Algerian's pass put Lukas Nmecha through on 70 minutes, but his finish was lacking before Hart produced an excellent point-blank save to deny Mahmoud Dahoud.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 22, 2018, with the headline 'Mahrez the bright spark in City's youthful side'. Print Edition | Subscribe