EB Streymur 0 Manchester City 2
Mark Hughes got his Manchester City reign off to a winning start in the unlikely surroundings of the Faroe Islands
First-half goals from Martin Petrov and Dietmar Hamann gave City a comfortable, competent victory in this UEFA Cup first qualifying round first leg, seemingly making the second leg at Barnsley on July 31 a formality.
Manager Hughes will now aim to move on from this chilly Atlantic outpost to send City on their way to a decent European run – something their fans have longed for.
In truth, City were rarely troubled by the part-timers, despite a commendable effort from the Faroe league leaders.
City had the quality in Petrov and the organisation of Richard Dunne, Micah Richards and Michael Johnson, but should have scored a few more goals and claimed the resounding victory many felt was on the cards.
Hughes showed his intentions by picking a strong side – giving a debut to £19million record signing Jo.
Richards, who has not played since February with a knee injury, made his comeback along with Nedum Onuoha- – out with shoulder trouble since April’s home defeat by Chelsea.
Streymur fielded just two full-timers – recent Danish signings Anders Jacobsen and Peter Foldgast – in a game refereed by Swiss woman Nicole Petignat.
The national stadium was almost full, with the crowd of 5,400 including 250 hardy souls from Manchester, including 12 who arrived via ferry – but only as far as the Shetlands.
The final leg should have been by hired trawler, but rough weather scuppered that plan and the Faroes airline, Atlantic, stepped in with free flights to the match.
An impressed Hughes made a point of welcoming them to the Torsvollur stadium beforehand.
When the action started Darius Vassell saw a close-range header saved at the foot of a post by Rene Torgard after just three minutes – and six minutes later City were ahead.
Stephen Ireland’s ball sent Vassell away down the right channel and when his cross was dummied by Johnson, Petrov slammed the ball into the far top corner.
Torgard blocked another Vassell close-range effort and Jo created space for a curling left-footed effort which went over the bar.
After 28 minutes it was 2-0, with Petrov again involved.
The Bulgarian’s corner was only half-cleared to the edge of the box, where Hamann volleyed it firmly past Torgard with the outside of his left foot.
The elusive Petrov gave Barour Olsen a torrid time down the left, Jo showed strength and a clever touch up front with City in full command.
It could have been more before the break, when Petrov’s cross after 33 minutes presented Jo with a diving header which flashed just wide.
Streymur started the second half with a flurry of defiance. Johnson was booked for a foul on Arnbjorn Hansen and from the free-kick from Barour Olsen – some 30 yards out – Hart managed to fumble the effort past a post.
Hart had to rush to the edge of his box to punch away a cross from Hans Pauli Samuelsen as the hosts could see the chance to punish City for a growing complacency.
After a first period of confidence and dominance, City eased up – even against part-timers a dangerous move while facing match-sharp players midway through their season.
City needed a third goal, and it almost came after 56 minutes when Jo nodded down for Vassell to see a shot deflected wide. Then Petrov sent a dipping drive just over.
City replaced Jo with young Wales international Ched Evans – now with a new three-year contract – after 74 minutes, with Gelson Fernandes coming on for Hamann at the same time.
Streymur responded with Brian Olsen and Hanus Eliasen taking over from Anders Jacobsen and Samuelsen two minutes later.
For all their commendable effort, Streymur had not really troubled Hart, and his first serious shot to save came from a drive from Hansen, who had got away from Dunne.
Evans almost scored with a shot on the turn that flashed wide – but there was no further scoring and City are overwhelming favourites to finish the job at Oakwell on July 31.