Jack Grealish knows he has to start with Manchester City this season - and he's impressed in Houston

De Bruyne stars in Manchester City’s friendly win – five things we learned from Houston

Two clinical strikes from Kevin De Bruyne gave Manchester City a winning start to the pre-season with a 2-1 victory over Club America in Houston.

In what was a sometimes tumultuous friendly on a difficult surface, Pep Guardiola gave minutes to the majority of his traveling squad – but Erling Haaland was still awaiting his debut.

Haaland, the £51million signing, enjoyed an evening as 61,223 people turned out at the NRG Stadium to watch the Premier League champions.

Here, Sportsmail picks out five things we learned.

Grealish gets down and dirty

This friendly match may have been thousands of miles from Manchester, but Jack Grealish must have felt right at home. Mown down by the opposition at every opportunity and booed relentlessly by the home crowd: it could have been any Premier League ground.

Grealish has a great second season on the horizon and has shown a real desire to make an impact, even though it was only a first friendly of the tour. The referee, Armando Villarreal, was certainly aware of his existence, with the pair often deep in conversation over penalty appeals.

Jack Grealish knows he has to start with Manchester City this season – and he’s impressed in Houston

Veteran defender Kyle Walker was strong at the back, limiting Mexican side Club America's attacking threats

Veteran defender Kyle Walker was strong at the back, limiting Mexican side Club America’s attacking threats

Despite the

Despite the “friendly” nature of the contest, City have fielded several of their stars as they refine their preparations for the Premier League from next month.

He was hacked at the end of a labyrinthine run, where he took three Club America defenders out of play and barracked constantly. Grealish showed determination, falling into dangerous pockets, but couldn’t escape rough treatment – some of which the broadcaster inside the NRG refused to show on the big screen.

Maybe it will serve him well for months to come. Guardiola will be impressed with how the winger has continued to persevere.

De Bruyne once again City’s talisman

Kevin De Bruyne picked up where he left off. Two goals – the first a curling effort from 20 yards, the second a more instinctive run and slide under Guillermo Ochoa – indicated he was in the mood to add even more this season.

Last year, De Bruyne was the most prolific of his career with 19 goals – 15 of them in the Premier League – after a genuine effort to ensure the Belgian’s starting position is more advanced than ever.

This could see him playing almost alongside Erling Haaland, feeding off the Norwegian, this season. His outspokenness makes him look comfortable in those pockets.

Kevin De Bruyne stood out for Manchester City, scoring twice in the first half

De Bruyne's curling effort from 20 yards showed class against Club America

De Bruyne’s curling effort from 20 yards showed class against Club America

Manchester City defender Nathan Ake kept a close eye on Club America's Henry Martin (right)

Manchester City defender Nathan Ake kept a close eye on Club America’s Henry Martin (right)

New face Phillips wants to impress Guardiola

Kalvin Phillips spent some time earlier in the week discussing the difficulty of claiming a regular place in Guardiola’s midfield given the options available to the manager.

“I know there will be times when I’ll be pulling my hair out because it’s so hard, but that’s what I wanted,” he said.

The England international joined City with his eyes wide open to the task at hand, but was unlikely to see his first outing as a £42million signing to come into midfield.

Phillips entered the fray at half-time and that he fell in the last four, alongside youngster Luke Mbete, proved the problems City currently have in this area. Ruben Dias has been sick but is expected to return for the friendly against Bayern Munich, while John Stones is with the Under-23s in Croatia and Aymeric Laporte is at home injured.

Phillips hopes it was a unique experience.

Haaland’s debut suspended for Citizens

City fans will have to wait a few more days for their first glimpse of Haaland. The striker was named among the substitutes but did not warm up before kick-off, with no prospect of bowing out.

Haaland only started training with his new teammates this week once they arrived in Houston and City are managing their minutes after a campaign with Borussia Dortmund that included a number of injuries and one that went wrong. completed only a few weeks ago after international duty with Norway.

The 22-year-old, wearing a hoodie rather than matchday gear, sat alongside Dias and his appearance on the big screen was met with huge cheers.

Off-season star signing Erling Haaland has cooled his care on the bench, as he awaits his first start for City

Off-season star signing Erling Haaland has cooled his care on the bench, as he awaits his first start for City

New signing Kalvin Phillips entered the fray after half-time and produced a neat performance as a makeshift defender

New signing Kalvin Phillips entered the fray after half-time and produced a neat performance as a makeshift defender

Manchester City Rodrigo (right) celebrates a goal scored by Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City Rodrigo (right) celebrates a goal scored by Kevin De Bruyne

Alvarez to watch

There is a lot of excitement for the second striker signed by City this year, Julian Alvarez, and there were a few moments that showed why.

While the Argentinian fluff had a chance before the break, overtaking a second touch when sent clear by the impressive Riyad Mahrez, his overall contribution was encouraging.

Alvarez’s link-up play suggested he will be equally adept at operating down the middle or on either wing, coming deep and in turn allowing De Bruyne to clear.

A number of clever diagonal balls and short flicks showed the kind of vision City crave in the final third.

And there was a stab in his game, tenaciously harassing defenders and turning possession in areas of the pitch that can hurt the opposition.

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