Manchester City won the season opening Community Shield on a warm day at Wembley, as Pep Guardiola’s side beat Liverpool 5-4 on penalties to claim the first silverware of the season.
The game had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a tame effort from close range that somehow beat Alisson in the Liverpool goal, the ball creeping over the goal-line. The Red’s pressed for an equaliser in the second half and Joel Matip popped up with a close range header with just over 10 minutes to go in the game, as the match went straight to penalties.
Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum was the only player to miss in the shoot-out for either side, as Brazilian Gabriel Jesus scored the winning penalty to give Manchester City the victory.
Coming into the game Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had spoken about his confusion at how the Community Shield isn’t always viewed as a serious trophy to win, but the Red’s boss made it clear it was a match he would take seriously, naming a strong line up against City. In the opposing dugout, Guardiola had done the same, Ederson and Sergio Aguero started on the bench however.
In a battle between two sides tipped to be challenging for the Premier League title this season, this year’s Community Shield provided both with an opportunity to gain a psychological advantage over the other.
The first chance of the game fell to Manchester City, Joe Gomez took too long on the ball and Sterling pounced, threading the ball into the path of Leroy Sane who was able to glide past Trent Alexander-Arnold, but the German could only hit the side netting.
It was a lively opening to the game with chances at both ends. The impressive Roberto Firmino did well to control a long ball and fire a shot towards Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, but the effort was straight at the ‘keeper.
Mohamed Salah had the next chance for Liverpool, the Egyptian found himself through on goal after a neat pass from Firmino, but the 27-year-old decided to strike the ball first time, and his weak shot was dragged wide of the target.
It was Manchester city who took that early phycological advantage, the opening goal of the game came just after the ten minute mark. A looping free-kick to the back post was well flicked on by David Silva, who managed to knock the ball across the box to the unmarked Sterling. The City man didn’t make the greatest connection with the ball but somehow it found its way over the line as Allison struggled to hold onto the shot, with the Liverpool defence unusually chaotic.
Guardiola’s side were dominating the game and Liverpool were finding it difficult to keep City from scoring a second. Sterling’s close range effort was beaten away by Alisson as the chances continued to come thick and fast.
As the game approached half time the match had hit a bit of a lull with City comfortable with their lead, Guardiola became the first Premier League manager to receive a yellow card following a rule change. The Spaniard was visibly annoyed by a challenge from Liverpool’s Gomez. The first 45 minutes finished with the scoreline at 1-0.
AS IT HAPPENED: Liverpool v Manchester City
City started the second half where they left off in the first, David Silva hitting a fierce strike over the top of the crossbar from a good position as Liverpool continued to struggle with their opponents’ attacking play.
But Liverpool grew into the game as the second half progressed. Man City struggled to keep control of the game and Virgil Van Dijk hit the underside of the bar from an Alexander-Arnold corner. The entire ground looked towards referee Martin Atkinson, but the official’s watch said no goal.
Liverpool were in control now and some lovely quick feet from Salah in the city box took him away from his man, the Liverpool star striking the near post with a precise effort. Liverpool getting closer to an equaliser.
The game had come back to life. Kyle Walker’s through-ball to Sterling was perfectly weighted and the England attacker ran through on goal, but a lapse of concentration at the crucial moment meant that Alisson dived at the feet of Sterling without the 24-year-old even managing to get a shot away.
Liverpool made a succession of changes in the second half, with the Red’s Premier League season opener less than a week away. And it was one of those substitutes who found Liverpool’s leveler. A looped ball into the six yard box by Van Dijk was met by his centre-back partner Matip, who climbed highest to head the ball past Bravo to make the score 1-1.
Klopp’s side were clearly on top as the game came to its conclusion. Naby Keita was well placed on the edge of the box, but his first time strike was well saved by the City ‘keeper.
Liverpool almost found the winner with just two minutes left of stoppage time. Salah found himself through on goal and was met by the onrushing Bravo. The goalkeeper made an initial save but the Egyptian looped the ball over the top of the Chilean, only to see his effort expertly cleared off the line by the acrobatic Walker. The defender denying Liverpool the late win.
As an excellent game came to an end and the scores level, the match went straight to penalties to decide the winner.
After only two successful spot-kicks Georginio Wijnaldum stepped up and placed his penalty to the right of Bravo but at a good height for the ‘keeper, who made the save. Gabriel Jesus took the winning penalty and slotted past Alisson who went the right way, but couldn’t make the save.
Manchester City with the 5-4 win on penalties to claim the first silverware of the season, before the Premier League gets underway on Friday for Liverpool, as they take on Norwich at Anfield. First up for City is West Ham at the London Stadium.
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