An eight-goal thriller inside the first 45 minutes at the Allianz Arena saw Manchester City secure a 5-3 victory over AC Milan to advance to the final of the preseason friendly Audi Cup tournament.
Manuel Pellegrini's men appeared to be coasting to a rout after netting five times within the opening 36 minutes, but the Serie A club struck for three without reply before the break to threaten a revival.
City flew out of the blocks and took the lead after just four minutes as Jesus Navas glided past Sulley Muntari on the right flank and picked out Stevan Jovetic at the back post, who cushioned the ball across goal. David Silva met and finished to open the scoring.
City's relentless pressure and Milan's pedestrian tempo led to a second as Micah Richards, playing at right back, powered toward goal and met a clipped pass from Fernandinho, which gave him the chance to test Marco Amelia. The Italian saved Richards' first effort but the ball was still loose and the defender poked home to make it 2-0.
Aleksander Kolarov was next to strike for City, as Jovetic pounced on Andrea Petagna's wayward pass and played in the Serbian fullback, who lashed a low drive from a narrow angle past Amelia.
City's slick exchanges continued to stupefy Milan, and Pellegrini's men eased to their fourth after Silva threaded a pass into Navas on the right flank, and the winger's superb low ball across the face of goal was tapped in by Edin Dzeko.
The Bosnian was linked with a move away during Roberto Mancini's reign, but Pellegrini has insisted the striker remains an integral part of his plans for the new season. On the evidence of his second goal, Dzeko could emerge as City's leading marksman this term as he effortlessly controlled Yaya Toure's 20-yard pass with his chest and struck a controlled volleyed attempt on the half turn past Amelia.
But Milan, who had been anonymous until City's fifth, was sparked into life by Stephan El Shaarawy just a minute after Dzeko's second goal. The Italian striker was alert to a poor touch by Javi Garcia on the edge of City's area and scuffed a low effort beyond the reach of Joe Hart.
Two minutes later, El Shaarawy netted his second of the game as City's defense was at a standstill, and the Italian was able to edge clear of Hart and finish with ease.
City's back line showed further frailty four minutes later, as Muntari's cross from deep on Milan's left flank bypassed Joleon Lescott, and Petagna was able to control and place his strike through the legs of Hart.
Multiple changes throughout the second half disrupted the pace of the game, but Milan was unable to build on its promising end of the opening 45 minutes.
Andrea Poli forced Hart into a smart save, while at the other end, Alvaro Negredo, a second-half substitute, struck the crossbar with a fierce effort from the edge of the box.
City will now face the winner of Bayern Munich and Sao Paolo in Thursday's Audi Cup final.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manuel Pellegrini
- Stevan Jovetic
- Jesus Navas
- Marco Amelia
- Sulley Muntari
- Micah Richards