ST. LOUIS (AP) — Manchester City’s plane touched down late in the afternoon, just in time for the players to suit up. A few hours later, a team coming off bitter disappointment kept pushing until its rivals broke.
”It was a thriller, wasn’t it?” said Micah Richards, who scored in extra time to cap a four-goal comeback in a 4-3 victory over rival Chelsea on Thursday night in the opener of a two-city U.S. tour. ”There was a lot of goals involved. Everyone enjoyed it and it was good for the fans.”
Everything clicked the final 30 minutes for Man City, which was 3-0-1 against Chelsea in the regular season. Richards re-directed a header for the deciding goal after Edin Dzeko’s second goal of the game tied it in the 85th minute.
”They’ve had a tough couple of weeks, losing the manager, losing the F.A. Cup final,” Man City assistant manager Brian Kidd said. ”You can’t say enough about them. They are a very talented squad, no doubt about it.”
Kidd is in charge for now after Roberto Mancini was fired one season after winning the English League title. Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is the anticipated replacement.
”That’s in the papers so everyone’s speaking about it,” Richards said. ”You never know, sometimes there’s always late runners coming in.”
Jose Mourinhou appears headed back for a stint as manager for Chelsea after failing with Real Madrid.
”I think every manager might change slightly during the years,” Chelsea goalie Petr Cech said. ”It’ll be great to see him back, and we’ll see if we can reproduce the same magic.” Whatever happens, Cech said there’ll be pressure.
”In a big club you always have the same expectations, no matter who’s the manager,” Cech said. ”You always want to win every time.”
The tour that finishes at Yankee Stadium in New York on Saturday comes on the heels of the just-completed English Premier League season and was predictably a polite affair in front of an enthusiastic neutral standing-room crowd of 48,263 at Busch Stadium. Ticket sellers on StubHub sought triple-digit payoffs up to $300 not long before game-time.
”We’re trying to expand, trying to get fans world-wide,” Richards said. ”So coming to America is perfect for us.”
Juan Mata set up a pair of first-half goals for Chelsea before coming out. Man City victimized backup goalie Jamal Blackman for all four goals after Cech came out at around the 60-minute mark.
Manchester City got goals from Javi Garcia and Dzeko in a 3-minute span of the second half not long after the goalie change. Cech made several big saves in the first half.
There were a handful of slips on sod installed days earlier covering the infield dirt, pitcher’s mound, batter’s box and baseline, none of them consequential.
”The pitch was a bit hard and my knees are a bit sore now,” Richards said. ”The atmosphere was amazing.”
Manchester trailed 2-0 at the half, dominating everywhere except the scoreboard.
Mata’s crossing pass set up Demba Ba’s header for the lead in the 15th minute and Cesar Azpilicueta scored on a penalty shot after Mata was dragged down by Karim Rekik.
”We could have won this game, for sure,” Ba said. ”We’re just here to have fun and entertain the people in the States, and I think we did with seven goals.”
Manchester City finished second in the English Premier League, one spot ahead of Chelsea.
Frank Lampard did not play for Manchester and the club’s leading career scorer also is skipping the second friendly to join England. Defenders Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole also are heading back home early.
There was a brief moment of silence prior to the start in tribute to those killed and injured in the Oklahoma tornados earlier in the week. Both teams wore black arm bands a day after joining a fundraising effort to aid children affected by the storm, with the Cardinals and event promoter Relevent pledging $1 per ticket and the teams matching the donation.