Pep Guardiola vowed to practice penalties after spot-kicks proved an unexpected weakness in Manchester City’s armoury at the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Raheem Sterling blazed over from 12 yards in normal time and City players then saw three penalties saved as they were beaten by Wolves in a shoot-out in Shanghai.
Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Lukas Nmecha all failed to beat Rui Patricio from the spot as Wolves prevailed 3-2 to claim the trophy in a poor-quality shoot-out at the Hongkou Stadium.
After sweeping almost all before them to win a domestic treble last season, it seems the Premier League champions have at least one area to brush up on.
City boss Guardiola said: “We didn’t expect that. I see my players take a penalty and I am always looking forward to scoring a goal but we have to practice. We’re going to practice to be better takers next time.”
That aside, defeat in unfamiliar hot and humid conditions after a week of travel difficulties was hardly a major setback for City.
There were positives, not least in the first-half performance of Kevin De Bruyne, who looked in great touch as he bids to put the injury frustrations of the past year behind him.
“He’s been top,” Guardiola said. “Unfortunately last season we missed him a lot. We did incredibly well without him but we are stronger with him.
“Last season he didn’t have a holiday but he has had more time to rest and he came back like he did two seasons ago.
“Hopefully he can keep his level. He’s incredibly positive in his mind and his quality speaks for itself. He made an incredible first half, really good.”
PENALTIES | Nmecha’s shot is saved.
Wolves win 3-2 on penalties…
— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 20, 2019
Wolves came through despite Conor Coady and Max Kilman also missing penalties, but their success was good reward for what has been a positive week on and off the field in China.
With Chinese ownership, Wolves have made a strong marketing push in the country and hosted a number of commercial events. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has also worked his players well as they prepare for the start of competitive action with a Europa League qualifier against Crusaders next Thursday.
Nuno said: “The week has gone OK. We go back home better than we arrived. This was one of the main ideas from the trip to the Asia Trophy.
“We attended a lot of events and the players were patient. They had strong sessions in the morning and then had to go to events.
“All the things we accomplished this week were good. It’s good preparation for the future.
“It’s important we return healthy and we are better to start progressing, game by game, day by day, always reaching high standards.
“We go home now and prepare ourselves for Thursday.”