Liverpool and Manchester City arrived at the King Power Stadium armed to the teeth with their newly acquired firepower. Darwin Nunez risks spending the whole of this season being compared to Erling Haaland. This weekend, the Uruguayan won the first leg of what is likely to be a permanent fight, scoring in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at the King Power Stadium in the Community Shield.
Liverpool started expansively, widening the field through Andy Robertson on the left and Salah on the right. The latter got a first chance after leaving Joao Cancelo on the spot, but his shot hit the side netting. City took advantage of a few chances, like Kevin De Bruyne’s shot being saved by Virgil van Dijk, but Liverpool seemed to be the strongest.
A cross from Robertson was well defended by Nathan Ake, a transfer target for Chelsea this summer. Ederson was called into action to fend off a ball from Jordan Henderson. There was nothing the City keeper could do to fend off Trent Alexander-Arnold. Salah sent a ball inside for the right-back, whose curling shot lodged in Ederson’s net.
Erling Haaland, perhaps aware that all eyes would be on him on his competitive debut, created two solid chances towards the end of the half. First, the ex-Borussia Dortmund man was making his way through before Adrian made a solid save. Seconds later, Haaland could have done better from a cross from Bernardo Silva, but his outstretched left leg went wide.
A well-controlled game showed signs of weakness before half-time. Riyad Mahrez wanted to get a penalty for an innocuous tackle from Thiago, while Cancelo had nibbled Alexander-Arnold a little.
Despite the absence of substitutes at half-time, City started the second half with a much different face than the first. Cancelo and Kyle Walker were both deployed further forward, while Mahrez drew Adrian into a stoppage with many fans still taking their places after a half-time pie and pint.
Of course, Haaland wasn’t the only new striker in contention, as Darwin Nunez (Liverpool) and Julian Alvarez (City) had the opportunity to shine from the bench. Nunez was the first to shine, taking advantage of a smart pass from Henderson and a close range save from Ederson. Then Phil Foden fired a close-range save from Adrian, before Alvarez dispatched the rebound. First judged offside, a long VAR delay allowed the goal to be awarded.
Nunez was going to have the opportunity to change the score quite quickly. His header hit Dias’ arm, resulting in a Liverpool penalty eight minutes from time. The man who is nicknamed “the Egyptian king” in the Merseyside region, Mo Salah, placed the ball low to the ground on the left of Ederson to give his team the advantage.
While we thought that the old stadium would define this curtain raiser, Nunez acrobatically headed a fall from Robertson to explode the atmosphere of King Power. Haaland hit the crossbar late in the game, handing victory to his Liverpool counterpart in the first of his many battles.
This is probably just the first shot in a new confrontation between the two best teams in the country. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are likely to lead their teams into battle on all fronts once again. The top two in last season’s standings are now only interested in trophies and, with Liverpool’s first trophy, the Etihad occupants will be looking for revenge.