Both Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool played their first competitive match since the World Cup in the round of 16 of the Carabao Cup, and the result was a nail-biting 3-2 victory for City.
Last year, Liverpool broke City’s four-year Carabao Cup winning streak by lifting the trophy for the first time in ten years, but this year, City avenged the loss with a 3-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Erling Haaland, Riyad Mahrez, and Nathan Ake.
Ake’s header from Kevin De Bruyne’s incredible cross in the 58th minute made the lead stick after Liverpool had twice come back to tie the game (first through Fabio Carvalho and then through Mohamed Salah).
When the quarterfinal draw is made later this season, City will be among the favorites to win the whole thing, along with teams like Manchester United, Leicester, and Newcastle.
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Man City Beat Liverpool 2-1 In A Thrilling Carabao Cup Match To Bring Domestic Soccer Back With A Bang
It’s debatable how many of the world’s best managers are at the World Cup these days, but two of the finest were found in the Carabao Cup, bringing the focus back to domestic duty in a typically compelling fashion.
Pep Guardiola has stated that this is not the trophy he needs to end his tenure with Manchester City. While he waits for his chance at the Champions League, he eliminated the reigning League Cup champions Liverpool FC and defeated his old adversary Jurgen Klopp in the process.
On this night, the club game roared back to life, stealing the spotlight from its international counterpart and demonstrating that the bar can be raised in this country despite the absence of many of the sport’s top forwards in the last month’s tournament in Qatar. Erling Haaland, Riyad Mahrez, and Mohamed Salah all scored, but only Nathan Ake, a World Cup quarterfinalist, even got into the game.
Kevin de Bruyne, one of the World Cup’s great underachievers, set up City’s first and third goals and was arguably the night’s most impressive player. After making the controversial, if correct, an assessment that Belgium was too old to succeed in Qatar, he now has a better chance of winning a championship while wearing the jersey of his club.
By James Ducker, At The Etihad Stadium
They enjoy a good ding dong, and we’ve come to expect only the best from them, but even taking into account the new heights they’ve reached in recent seasons, this was still a fiery spectacle to behold.
There are few better guarantees of entertainment than a matchup between Manchester City and Liverpool, and this one did not disappoint. It was a frenetic, full-blooded pre-festive treat played at a breakneck pace that shattered any hope that the return of the domestic game might prove a rather tame, subdued affair so soon after the conclusion of the World Cup. Few would disagree with Jürgen Klopp’s assessment that it was “spectacular.”
The chief executives of City and Liverpool wrote a joint letter to fans before this game pleading with them to end the rivalry between the clubs.
Thankfully, the majority of the crowd played along, but the players clearly hadn’t gotten the memo because they fought tooth and nail. It was enticing, full of action, high in quality and intensity and chances, and on occasion, it came close to boiling over without actually crossing the line.
Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez put Liverpool down early, and Fabio Carvalho and Mohamed Salah helped the Reds claw their way back, but ultimately, they couldn’t stop Kevin De Bruyne from tormenting them with his consistent, unrelenting brilliance.
Just before the hour mark, Nathan Ake scored off what must have been the hundredth dazzling cross of the night from the Belgian, and City fought ferociously to protect their lead.
City’s Turn For Quadruple Hunt
Manchester City had a somewhat disappointing 2021/22 season, winning the Premier League but falling short of their previous record-setting heights.
Liverpool made a serious run at all four trophies, losing in the final two weeks of the season but still coming away with two titles.
With this win, even if the Reds stage a miraculous comeback in the Premier League, they will not be able to repeat that feat.
In its place, City will attempt to join the quadruple chase by winning the Carabao Cup.
Unpredictable Nunez Endures Rough Night
A potential World Cup hangover was put to rest when Darwin Nunez scored twice for Liverpool in their final midseason friendly against AC Milan.
However, the Uruguayan was back to his old ways in this game, failing to convert on enough scoring opportunities to prevent a loss for the visitors during regulation.
Klopp will be hoping it’s just a finishing hiccup, like when Haaland missed a plethora of opportunities in the Community Shield earlier this season.
Liverpool’s high-priced summer addition needs to quickly find his shooting form, as both Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota will be sidelined for some time.
Given the number of personnel changes on both sides and the disruption caused by the unusual break in the middle of the season, it was to be expected that this game would be a high-scoring back-and-forth.
Liverpool’s challenge is figuring out if their recent struggles are due to external factors or are merely a continuation of their inconsistent play so far this season.
The best indicator of whether Jurgen Klopp’s squad has figured out how to exert more game control in recent weeks, which is necessary for continued improvement, will come against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.