By Neil Frankland
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MELBOURNE, Australia _ Raheem Sterling took less than three minutes to score his first goal in a Manchester City shirt as the English club beat Roma 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw Tuesday in a preseason friendly.
Sterling, who moved from Liverpool to City last week in a 49 million pound ($76 million) deal that made him the most expensive English signing ever, scored after running onto a lofted pass from Kelechi Iheanacho.
“For a striker it’s always important to score, especially very early in the game,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. “He just played 45 minutes and he’s only worked with our team for just a few days, so I’m very happy with the way he played and he demonstrated why he’s here.”
Roma equalized five minutes later when Miralem Pjanic scored with a powerful strike from outside the box at the end of a deft combination involving Daniele De Rossi, Francesco Totti and Gervinho.
Iheanacho restored the lead for City six minutes into the second half when he swooped on a wayward Roma back pass by second-half substitute Ashley Cole and sent the ball into the top right of the net from the centre of the box. But Roma levelled again in the 87th minute from a free kick by Adem Llajic after Seydou Doumbia was brought down by Yaya Toure at the edge of the box.
“We made a mistake in the second half and we had to make up for it,” Roma coach Jose Garcia said through a translator. “But what I appreciated most was that we were able to come back from behind twice and we are mentally strong.”
The match was the second of three International Champions Cup friendlies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Roma beat Real Madrid on penalties in opener on Saturday. Manchester City meets Madrid in the final game on Friday.
Both coaches complained about the condition of the MCG field, which is also hosting Australian rules football games.
“For me to complain about the pitch is for two reasons,” Pellegrini said. “The first is (the danger) of having and injury and the second is that you need the best pitch you can have to play a good game.”