Manchester City were beaten 4-2 by VfB Stuttgart in Germany on Saturday in their final pre-season friendly, with only a late flourish sparked by Raheem Sterling rescuing some pride.
The Premier League club’s manager Manuel Pellegrini sent out a strong starting line-up, featuring record signing Sterling and with Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and another new recruit, Fabian Delph, the only notable absentees.
But Stuttgart, who only just avoided relegation from the top flight of the Bundesliga last season, found themselves 4-0 up inside 38 minutes at the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Filip Kostic put them in front before Daniel Didavi scored a fine second and Daniel Ginczek added two more past a helpless Joe Hart in the City goal, to the delight of the home fans in the crowd of just over 40,000.
There was an improvement from the English outfit in the second period, however, with Sterling setting up Nigerian teenager Kelechi Iheanacho to get a goal back six minutes from time.
And Sterling was the provider again for substitute Edin Dzeko to make it 4-2 on what could be the Bosnian striker’s last appearance for the club with a move to Roma on the cards.
City, who had previously spent time in Australia and played a friendly in Vietnam this pre-season, begin their Premier League campaign against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns a week on Monday. – Agence France-Presse