Liverpool vs. Man City result and reaction: 2022 Community Shield won

Liverpool vs. Man City result and reaction: 2022 Community Shield won

KING POWER STADIUM, LEICESTER — The Community Shield promised to be a story about two new strikers, and Liverpool defeated Manchester City to complete Jurgen Klopp’s trophy collection.

Darwin Nunez came off the bench to seal the Reds’ 3-1 victory. Meanwhile, Erling Haaland struggled to find his feet in his competitive debut.

In the annual clash between the reigning Premier League champions and FA Cup holders, Liverpool started strongly, with Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson finding plenty of space down their right flank.

The Reds scored through Trent Alexander-Arnold in a first half that was understandably full of misplaced passes, poor touches, and minor lapses in concentration. With his effort curling outwards onto the back post and in, he gave Liverpool a deserved lead. The ball was glanced in by Nathan Ake’s head, but the goal was primarily due to Alexander-Arnold and the man who assisted him, Salah, being given too much space to operate.

 

City gained a foothold and eventually an equalizer in the second period, with Argentinian Julian Alvarez scoring his first goal for City. Adrian parried Phil Foden’s first-time strike to Alvarez, who made no mistake with 20 minutes remaining, even though an offside call was overturned thanks to VAR.

Despite a brief resurgence from Pep Guardiola’s men, who threatened to turn the screw, Liverpool regained control. Nunez’s header struck the hand of Ruben Dias, prompting VAR to award the penalty kick. Salah took a step forward and fired low to Ederson’s left.

Nunez’s head was about to play another crucial role, as he stooped low to finish the curtain-raiser in style. The centre-forward had been booed to the rafters all afternoon, and he relished his special moment with the fans, ripping his shirt off in celebration. Try debating the game’s competitiveness with him.

Klopp has now won every trophy available to him as Liverpool manager, lifting the Community Shield for the third time after losing penalty shootouts to Arsenal and Manchester City previously. He’s assembled one of the world’s top two teams, and it’s unfortunate that the other is City.

After narrowly losing the title to Guardiola on the final day of last season and failing to win any of his previous five Premier League games against the Citizens, Klopp has now laid down an early marker in the next chapter of this exciting rivalry.

Haaland has a difficult debut.

All eyes were on Haaland, a barely-believable 22-year-old whose physical presence this season will frighten many a center-back. However, neither Virgil van Dijk nor Joel Matip were shaken in Leicester.

He could be the deciding factor in a title race that will almost certainly be decided by the smallest of margins, but Haaland will need time. This isn’t a case of throwing a hulking striker into a system designed for an out-and-out No.9. Understandably, the Norwegian appeared to be unfamiliar with Guardiola’s system.

He was unsure whether to stay or go at times, with Kevin De Bruyne visibly frustrated on one occasion. Haaland was caught in a no-land, man’s unable to make an impact against Liverpool’s defense.

He brushed aside Henderson and Andy Robertson with ease at two points. But, like Jack Grealish, who struggled this evening, and Riyad Mahrez, he has a long way to go in terms of movement and understanding.

In the first period, he had one shot saved by Adrian, sliding a left-footed effort on goal after dispatching Robertson. He then snatched at a mid-air cross moments later, squandering a golden opportunity just before halftime.

After the break, he failed to get into the game again, was dealt with relatively easily, and was overshadowed by substitutes Foden and Alvarez. His one big chance came in stoppage time, and while it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, it felt like a big moment.

Even though it would not have covered up the underlying problem or improved overall performance, the mood could have been drastically altered. The ball fell to Haaland with the goal gaping, with Adrian already on the ground after saving a Foden effort. The former Borussia Dortmund player couldn’t keep his effort down, hitting the bar and being met with raucous applause and cheers from the Merseyside crowd.

Guardiola played down any concerns in his post-match press conference, with the faint sound of Liverpool players shouting “ole” and banging makeshift drums a few rooms down: “He had chances. He had a lot of fights. He moved around.

“It’s beneficial for him to comprehend, to see the reality of a new country.” He is of exceptional quality. He’ll do it. He has a fantastic sense of humor. He’ll be of great assistance to us. He was there; he had the opportunities.”

Thiago is getting up to speed, while Liverpool dominates on the right.

Thiago Alcantara is an excellent footballer. Yes, it’s self-evident. Yes, it is met with scorn on social media by those who believe he is “overrated.” But he’s a lot of fun to watch.

In a shortened preseason, it was entirely predictable that this game would feature players who were slightly off the pace, but Thiago appeared to be in midseason form. Due to his poor injury record, Liverpool may only get him for half of the games, but those games will be full of mesmerising ball control. Given the fitness concerns, it’s a huge and unexpected boost for Klopp that the Spain international is already looking up to the level.

He made some beautiful first-time passes, including one in the buildup to Alexander-goal. Arnold’s Thiago looked sensational, whether it was stretching the play, keeping the ball moving in a very tight space, or driving forward by finding gaps where no one else did. The loudest applause, of course, came when he helped out defensively, specifically by barging Kyle Walker to keep possession.

Thiago dominated the midfield battle, with City looking disjointed in that area despite having played two fewer preseason games than Liverpool. Worryingly, the Reds made hay down their left flank for the entire 90 minutes.

The trio of Grealish, Rodri, and Cancelo struggled to keep up. Cancelo, in particular, was caught out of position far too often, resulting in numerous presentable Liverpool opportunities. With the No.7 on his back, he seemed to take his area of operation too literally. A few balls bouncing off him into touch summed up the Portuguese’s forgettable season opener.

He could be partially excused because he was up against an imperious opponent in Salah, who breezed past Cancelo as often as he gave him twisted blood on the dribble. In signing a new contract, the Egyptian King provided Liverpool’s standout moment of the summer, and looked like a man on a mission here — ready to spend the rest of 2022 claiming the individual awards he cares so much about.

Salah was a dynamo on the right wing, and he had his own little game going with Henderson, who drifted out there to great effect at times. The captain was extremely dynamic, teeing up chances especially in the first half, stretching City.

Hope for the future after Mane

Liverpool would have suffered two league defeats and an FA Cup semi-final exit if Sadio Mane’s goals had not been scored last season. His goals only tell half the story, so the concern about his departure and its impact on a fierce rivalry was understandable.

Despite the Liverpool fans’ unwavering support in the first half, Roberto Firmino didn’t appear capable of filling the central void — after all, Mane had effectively replaced the Brazilian by moving inside last season — and the importance of Nunez settling in quickly was clear.

 

The Uruguayan showed effort from the moment he entered the field midway through the second half, looking relatively in sync with the Reds’ midfielders as he latched onto through balls and engaged in physical battles with the opposing center-backs.

 

He ended up making two game-changing contributions, winning the penalty and scoring the game-winning header. The joy and relief were palpable as he sank to his knees at the full-time whistle. Andy Carroll had been trending on social media in response to Nunez’s preseason debut against Manchester United a few weeks prior. The pressure could easily have begun to build.

Klopp responded in his post-match press conference, saying, “[The debut was] good. Good. It was obvious that he would improve with time. He’ll be judged at first sight, which doesn’t help. [The preseason criticism was] a farce. The impact from the bench was outstanding.”

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