Pep Guardiola praised teenage duo Sam Edozie and Cole Palmer after plunging them in at the deep end in the Community Shield.
With Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne injured, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus given extra time off, Jack Grealish starting on the bench and Harry Kane still in pending, it was left to Edozie, 18, and 19-year-old Palmer to support Ferran Torres in attack against Leicester.
And the pair certainly did not look out of place as Guardiola’s makeshift team were narrowly beaten by an 89th-minute penalty from Kelechi Iheanacho.
“The courage of the young guys, Sam and Cole, they are important players,” said the City boss.
“What I like about them – Cole was exceptional all game – but when they lost one ball, they tried and tried again.
“In the first half (Ricardo) Pereira won the duels with Sam, because he is a top player, but in the second half Sam was better.
“They both like to dribble. They were both exceptional on a big stage at Wembley. They were so good.
“Congratulations to the academy. They provide me with huge talents. They are working to provide me with good players and we are delighted.
“In general, given the short preparation time we had, all the academy players have been exceptional.”
Iheanacho won the match from the spot after he was clumsily fouled by Nathan Ake.
The former City striker told LCFC TV: “I’m really happy we got our first trophy to kick off the season. We’ll concentrate and keep working hard, and hopefully we’ll get another trophy this season.
“Obviously, Man City is my old team, so there’s mixed emotions, but I think the fans needed something like that.
“I thought it was going to go to penalties at the end, but we got a penalty and I took it. It hit the back of the net, so I’m happy.”
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