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Sergio Aguero spoiled Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s first taste of English football as the Argentine’s double gave Manchester City a stylish 2-0 victory in the Community Shield on Sunday.
Blues boss Sarri, hired to replace the sacked Antonio Conte last month, endured a miserable debut in the prestigious friendly at Wembley as lacklustre Chelsea were swept aside by Premier League champions City.
Picking up where they left off in their record-breaking campaign last term, Pep Guardiola’s team took an early lead through Aguero, who rewarded City’s dominance with a second goal after the break.
The last side to win the Community Shield and then go on to clinch the Premier League title were Manchester United in 2010-11. On this evidence, City could follow in their arch rivals’ footsteps at the end of the season.
City’s German winger Leroy Sane was forced off injured at half-time, giving Guardiola a scare ahead of their Premier League opener at Arsenal on August 12. But that was the only sour note for City as they got back in the groove in impressive style.
While the Community Shield serves as the curtain raiser to the new season, City and FA Cup holders Chelsea have very different ambitions for the Premier League campaign, which kicks off on Friday.
City are favourites to defend the title and among the top Champions League contenders after becoming the first English top-flight team to secure 100 points last season.
In contrast, Chelsea are starting from scratch after chain-smoking former banker Sarri was hired from Napoli as an antidote to his antagonistic predecessor Conte.
But healing the wounds of Conte’s fractious two-year reign—which ended with Chelsea 30 points behind City in fifth place—won’t be easy for Sarri, as this spluttering performance underlined.
Sarri and Guardiola are close friends and dined together on the eve of the Community Shield, yet this first experience of Chelsea’s reduced status must have left a nasty taste for the Italian. -AFP