Encouraging signs for City as Pukki remains sharp in pre-season
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Teemu Pukki plays, Teemu Pukki scores. No surprise there then.
Two goals in three friendlies comes as little shock but the Finn's strike, finished with the usual clinical aplomb, clearly meant a little bit to him.
Pre-season it may have been but Pukki's time with Schalke between 2011 and 2013 only yielded eight goals from 47 matches before he left for Celtic.
Things have kicked on rather well for the Canaries star since then though and the signs are that his confidence is still flowing in the fashion which brought him the Championship's Player of the Season award and golden boot.
It was actually a slightly sloppy start for the 29-year-old in Lotte on Friday though, spearheading City's usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Marco Stiepermann his familiar chief support from midfield.
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Pukki dropped deep to take possession from Grant Hanley but then managed to give the ball straight to Benito Raman. He charged back into his own box to prevent a disastrous start though and blocked the cross which followed.
It only took 13 minutes for City's main man to get on the scoresheet though, in trademark fashion. Stiepermann nodded a clearance down to Patrick Roberts on the right wing and the Manchester City loanee threaded Pukki clean through into the right channel.
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There was more than a hint of offside but the linesman must have been getting up to speed in pre-season as well, as the flag stayed down, and from there it was never in doubt.
Pukki fired low under the exposed Markus Schubert and there was warm applause from the home fans, which was replicated later when he was replaced by Dennis Srbeny in the 74th minute - and after the final whistle as well as he warmed down.
The former Schalke striker is a man with ice in his veins, with his beaming grin as he conducted post-match interviews a reminder of a man who scored more goals for Finland, got married and signed a new contract this summer.
He came close to a second just three minutes after his goal, shimmying past Matija Nastasic into the box and forcing Schubert out of his goal, only for the keeper to scramble the ball behind for a corner.
The Finn was wasteful in the 21st minute after being sent clear on the left by a nice pass from Jamal Lewis, with his cross easily cleared, but he was inches from another goal 14 minutes later.
It was that typical link-up with Stiepermann which saw Pukki charging into the left channel, drawing Schubert out of his goal again but with the angle narrowed the striker had to shoot with his left foot and saw the ball roll agonisingly beyond the far post.
He tried to return the favour in the 38th minute, as he attempted to tee up Stiepermann for a shot, only for his pass to roll out of play.
Todd Cantwell was next to benefit from Pukki's energetic running just before the break, only to be crowded out on the edge of the box.
After winning an early corner after the break it was about time for the Canaries star to claim an assist - of which Pukki also managed an impressive 12 last season.
Tom Trybull seized on more loose play at the back by the Germans and Pukki pushed into space before finding Mo Leitner free in the box and despite the midfielder's initial hesitance, his shot still looped into the net as it wrong-footed Schubert in the 59th minute.
It's early days in pre-season still of course but City fans will be encouraged at the manner in which Pukki has returned to action, filled with hope that he can handle the step up to the Premier League and continue to score regularly.