SHANGHAI (AFP) – Goalkeeper Rui Patricio was the hero for Wolves picking himself off the turf to save three spot-kicks after their Asia Trophy final against Manchester City went to penalties last Saturday.
Wolves won the exhibition tournament 3-2 on penalties after the game against the Premier League champions ended 0-0 after 90 sweaty minutes in Shanghai.
It was a story of missed penalties for Pep Guardiola’s City but one of guts for Portuguese stopper Patricio, 31, who suffered a facial injury in the first half.
“He’s okay, he had a bit of a cut and will have stitches now, but he will recover. That’s part of his job,” said victorious Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
Chinese-owned Wolves begin their Europa League campaign against Crusaders FC of Northern Ireland on Thursday, just days after arriving back from China.
It means an early start to their season, but Nuno believes that the trip to the Far East has put them in decent condition to compete at home and abroad in the months ahead.
Crucially, they jet home without any major injuries.
“The main thing is that we survived, we are happy,” Nuno said.
His counterpart Guardiola was unconcerned about losing the final of the mini pre-season competition, which also involved West Ham United and Newcastle United.
He saw Raheem Sterling miss a first-half penalty for City, who dominated at a full Hongkou Stadium but were blunt in attack without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.
Pre-season games are notoriously poor barometers for the season to come, especially when played in stifling heat like in Shanghai.
Leroy Sane, the German winger wanted by Bayern Munich, started for City and won the Sterling penalty, but otherwise had a quiet game before being substituted on the hour.
Kevin De Bruyne was Guardiola’s captain for the night – the City armband is up for grabs following the departure of talisman Vincent Kompany.
England international forward Sterling, playing through the middle, also fluffed a golden chance in the first half from close range with only Patricio to beat.
In the third-fourth playoff, Newcastle beat West Ham 1-0 to give Steve Bruce victory in his first match as head coach.
The 58-year-old, whose appointment has gone down badly with already disillusioned Newcastle fans, was unable to be pitch-side because of Chinese visa restrictions.