Manchester City beat Liverpool to the Premier League title last season, and City opened this one by topping the Reds again, this time on penalties following a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes in Sunday’s FA Community Shield.
The annual friendly match at Wembley Stadium normally pits the Prem champs and FA Cup winners. City won both competitions last season, denying Liverpool its first English title in 29 years by a single point. Meantime, the Reds took home the prize the Sky Blues coveted most by winning the Champions League for their sixth European title.
This backdrop made for a saucier-than-usual Community Shield. The match didn’t disappoint either, producing end-to-end action from perhaps the best two clubs in the world from the outset.
Liverpool was the better team
The Citizens are used to success at Wembley — they had won six of their last seven matches there entering Sunday’s meeting with Jurgen Klopp and Co. — and that trend seemed destined to continue during the early part of the contest.
But despite falling behind early, Liverpool carved out more than its share of chances in a highly entertaining first half. And after the break, it was all Reds.
The equalizing goal they needed finally arrived in the 77th minute when 6-foot-5 center back Joel Matip nodded home a cross from his fellow center back Virgil van Dijk following a free kick:
Joël Matip heads home Virgil van Dijk's cross to level it up at 1-1! pic.twitter.com/TMLqtsttRq
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 4, 2019
Raheem Sterling torments his former club
The ex-Liverpool attacker has been a thorn in the side of the Reds ever since swapping Anfield for Manchester for a truckload of cash in 2015. But the 24-year-old has come into his own over the last two years, so it was somehow appropriate that he opening the scoring on Sunday.
Sterling filled in up top for Sergio Aguero, who just returned to training after playing for Argentina in last month’s Copa America. And based on his overall performance, Sterling appears ready to hit the ground running when the new Premier League season kicks off next weekend.
He found himself in the right spot to slot David Silva’s pass past Alisson to give Pep Guardiola’s side the lead before the match was 12 minutes old:
David Silva flicks it to Raheem Sterling, who scores his first goal against his former club! pic.twitter.com/gPWpMVVbEW
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 4, 2019
Sterling also squandered a golden opportunity to double City’s lead (and perhaps seal the regulation win) when he broke in alone on Alisson shortly before Liverpool’s equalizer, but a heavy final touch allowed the Brazilian keeper to smother the ball and snuff out the danger.
Leroy Sane’s injury a worry for City
As high-quality as Sunday’s match was, it was still a friendly, a final tune-up ahead of the marathon season to come. The primary aim, as in every exhibition, was to get through it unscathed.
Unfortunately for City, that didn’t happen. Leroy Sane was forced to come off the field just after Sterling’s opener, the German winger appearing to injury his Achilles tendon in a challenge with Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Guardiola’s roster is deep enough to withstand the loss of just about anyone, of course. But with Aguero still not fully fit, the timing is not ideal. Depending on the seriousness of the ailment, it could even scupper Sane’s rumored move to Bayern Munich before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
Guardiola is the first EPL manager to get a yellow card
The Spanish boss is known for his intense sideline demeanor, so it was probably appropriate that Guardiola became the first Premier League manager to be shown a yellow card during Sunday’s match.
The FA changed its rules in 2018 to allow referees to caution managers, but no Prem boss had received one until Martin Atkinson showed Guardiola a yellow for arguing a call four minutes before halftime.
Guardiola was incensed after Liverpool defender Joe Gomez leveled City captain Silva with a crunching challenge.
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