Raheem Sterling put new club Manchester City ahead within three minutes after making his debut
Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic levelled things three minutes later with a fantastic long-range effort
City youngster Kelechi Iheanacho capitalised on a lazy back pass from Ashley Cole to put his side ahead
Adem Ljajic equalised with a beautifully executed free-kick minutes from time to take the game to penalties
Aleksandar Kolarov blazed his penalty over the crossbar before Ljajic scored again with a cheeky Panenka
Joe Hart stepped up to smash a spot-kick into the top corner before Seydou Doumbia failed with another Panenka
Sterling was named man of the match award for his performance in his first outing as a City player
There have been many quick singles claimed at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground over the years, but it’s fair to say that the man troubling the scorers never cost his team £49million.
Raheem Sterling needed only two minutes and 17 seconds here to show why Manchester City decided to approach Liverpool with three offers before breaking their club record to sign him earlier this month.
It was all the more impressive because the England forward had just picked himself up from a rather embarrassing fall on his backside less than a minute into his debut in an International Champions Cup friendly eventually decided by a penalty shootout in City’s favour.
Raheem Sterling completes a fine move from new side Manchester City after latching on to a through ball from Kelechi Iheanacho
The former Liverpool forward keeps his eyes on the ball as he races clean through before putting his new side ahead within three minutes
Sterling (centre) is surrounded by his new City team-mates as they congratulate him for scoring the opener against Roma on Tuesday
ROMA: De Sanctis; Florenzi, Manolas, Romagnoli, Torosidis; Ucan, Pjanic, De Rossi; Iturbe, Totti, Gervinho.
Scorers: Pjanic 8, Ljajic 87
MAN CITY: Caballero (Hart 46); Sagna (Horsfield 46), Kompany (Evans 82), Mangala (Denayer 46), Clichy (Kolarov 46); Garcia (Lopes 46), Fernando (Nasri 46), Zuculini (Toure 46); Sterling (Navas 46), Kelechi (Unal 73), Silva (Barker 46).
Scorers: Sterling 3, Kelechi 51
Referee: Jarred Gillett (Australia)
The Roma fans who booed him before kick-off loved that moment, jeering with delight when Sterling tried to trick his way past Alessandro Florenzi and slipped on the soft turf that had caused Manuel Pellegrini so much concern before kick-off.
The 20-year-old wasn’t about to hide, though. No sulking or skulking away to the touchline. When Kelechi Iheanacho clipped the ball in behind the Roma defence moments later, Sterling’s jet-heeled reaction took him clear of the Italian defence and through on goal.
Goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis came off his line more in hope than expectation, but there was only going to be one outcome. Sterling took a touch and slipped the ball into the net with his right foot.
Game one, goal No 1. There will be more important occasions and more important goals in the months ahead, but this was a very good way to start paying off that transfer fee.
Not one to be bothered about ruffling a few feathers, former Liverpool team-mate Mario Balotelli congratulated the youngster on opening his account with his new team.
‘Well done @sterling31 ! Best answer. Keep it up’, he wrote.
Pellegrini will be delighted with the sharpness Sterling showed during his 45 minutes on the pitch here, playing in his preferred position wide on the left. He should have won his side a penalty as well but Australian referee Jarred Gilllett rejected a stonewall claim when Sterling turned Florenzi inside out and was chopped down in the box before half-time. Another appeal, following an innocuous challenge from Konstantinos Manolas, was slightly more optimistic.
And to think, the organisers spelt his name wrong – Stirling – on a teamsheet that saw Roma start with seven of the squad that featured in the Champions League decider between these two clubs in December, resulting in City going through to the knockout stage at the expense of the Italians.
It wasn’t exactly the perfect start for Sterling before his goal, as his first touch as a City player ended with him falling over the ball
Despite taking a tumble early on in his debut, Sterling dusted himself off and opened his Manchester City account within minutes
Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic lets rip before his thunderous strike beats City keeper Willy Caballero to bring the sides level
PENALTY SHOOTOUT RESULTS
Yaya Toure (Man City) – SCORED
Radja Nainggolan (Roma) – SCORED
Aleksandar Kolarov (Man City) – MISSED
Adem Ljajic (Roma) – SCORED
Jesus Navas (Man City) – SCORED
Mattia Destro (Roma) – SCORED
Marcos Lopes (Man City) – SCORED
Iago Falque (Roma) – SCORED
Joe Hart (Man City) – SCORED
Seydou Doumbia (Roma) – MISSED
James Horsfield (Man City) – SCORED
Seydou Keita (Roma) – MISSED
Miralem Pjanic fired them level in quite stunning fashion in the eighth minute with a dipping, swerving effort from 25 yards that beat Willy Caballero all ends up after Francesco Totti had held the ball up and played it back to Gervinho.
Florenzi then hit an equally fierce effort narrowly over and Eliaquim Mangala had to clear from under his own bar as Gervinho waited to convert Pjanic’s cross at the far post before the half-time interval which brought nine City changes.
Kelechi restored City’s lead six minutes after the restart, showing great anticipation when no-one else in a half-full MCG could have known what substitute Ashley Cole was going to do next. The former England defender tried a first-time back-pass to his keeper but ballooned it horribly wide of its intended target. Kelechi responded while the rest of the Roma defence stood still, bringing the ball under control before lifting it over De Sanctis.
It was an assured finish from a young man highly rated by City, and one worthy of winning the game. But Adem Ljajic had other ideas, expertly clipping a free-kick over the defensive wall and wide of Joe Hart’s despairing dive.
That meant a penalty shootout, not that many people in the ground knew what to expect at the final whistle. Aleksandar Kolarov sent City’s second attempt high over the bar but Joe Hart converted one himself and saved twice from Seydou Doumbia – who tried to copy Ljajic’s cheeky chip – and then Seydou Keita in sudden-death to give his side victory.
By then, Sterling had long the departed the stage. But his contribution will be every bit as important to Pellegrini as the win.
His perfect debut ended on a further high note, when he was handed the man-of-the-match award for his first-half exploits.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international celebrates his fine long-range effort with team-mates Daniele De Rossi and Gervinho