A quality Community Shield final, for once, as Liverpool and Manchester City, resumed their rivalry in what may be considered a friendly but certainly was never going to be a true friendship between these sides.
Liverpool won their first Community shield since 2006 whilst Manchester City suffered their second consecutive final loss after defeat to Leicester City last season.
With that being said it is hard to say whether City should be worried given the nature of the game, a game in which Liverpool thoroughly deserved to win and one in which City’s goal was very much against the run of play. Whilst Liverpool scored two late goals to finish the game they looked on top for the majority of the game and Manchester City did look a bit sluggish.
The key thing to remember is that Manchester City has only played two friendlies compared to Liverpool’s four friendlies added to the fact that the last team to win the Premier League and the Community Shield was Manchester City in 2019 and only two of the last 13 matches have been won by a team that goes on to win the Premier League that season.
With injuries being a key element of Liverpool’s pre-season, they started with their third choice keeper, Adrian. Other than that Firmino was the other main choice with new signing Darwin Nunez only making the bench.
For Manchester City, Erling Haaland started but other signings Kalvin Phillips and Julian Alvarez were on the bench. The only surprise was Nathan Ake, who had been linked with a move to Chelsea, starting alongside Ruben Dias.
Liverpool had the brighter start with the opening half hour being capped off by a finish from Trent Alexander-Arnold making it 1-0 to the Reds. They were sharp and more direct and Manchester City, having started pre-season later, were slower out of the blocks with fewer chances.
Despite it being a pre-season friendly Liverpool pressed profusely, they were looking to make a statement after losing out on the title by one point to the Citizens last season.
Erling Haaland had a tough first half having to work extremely hard to get into the game but was City’s best player in the first half.
At half-time, the game was very much open with both sides having chances to add to their tallies.
Second half: Manchester City strike back
After a lengthy VAR check, Julian Alvarez's goal was awarded to equalise against Liverpool
Liverpool continued as they started and looked more likely to add to their goal than Manchester City were to equalise. This was despite City being quick out of the blocks with Mahrez forcing a smart save from Adrian.
Then the subs that changed the match happened as Julian Alvarez came on for his debut, replacing Jack Grealish, with Phil Foden coming on for Riyad Mahrez. For Liverpool, Nunez replaced Roberto Firmino.
Darwin Nunez almost had an immediate impact as he was played in and fouled by Ederson in the box, just as he looked up to Craig Pawson to point to the spot, the referee put his hand up, signalling offside.
Diaz was bright once again creating chances for Salah and Nunez, whilst Alvarez and Foden combined to create a chance for the Sky Blues. Nunez then had another chance as he was played in by Jordan Henderson. Ederson was equal to the chance with his face getting in the way to keep the game at 1-0.
That proved to be quite important as after a check on a Matip handball, City created a great chance with Phil Foden making a run from deep and forcing Adrian to spill into the path of debutant Julian Alvarez. The Argentine hammered the ball in and was chased in the celebration by Erling Haaland but these celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.
A lengthy VAR check determined that Andrew Robertson had played Foden onside and City equalised after 73 minutes, setting up a frantic last 20 minutes. Whilst it was the right decision, the talk will be about how long the check was. We must remember that VAR is for clear and obvious mistakes and with this, in mind, something must be done and a limit on the time taken on decisions should be determined.
Liverpool bounce back to seal the win
Mohammed Salah, the one season wonder! He scored the winning goal from the spot
Manchester City would have believed momentum could have turned the game on its head but Jurgen Klopp made some astute substitutions bringing on fresh legs in the experience of James Milner and the youthful exuberance of Harvey Elliott.
Alvarez did threaten the Liverpool goal again but the pace and power of Darwin Nunez continued to cause problems for the Manchester City backline and it was his build-up play that set up Mohamed Salah to cross to the back-stick to the Uruguayan whose header hit the outstretched hand of Ruben Dias.
Play continued as Manchester City countered but after a wayward cross Craig Pawson was then advised to check the pitch side monitor and after two checks, he made the famous box motion and pointed to the spot.
After a lengthy delay, due to Ruben Dias’ complainants which he was booked for, Mohamed Salah stepped up to take the penalty. Despite Sam Matterface’s best attempt to commentator’s curse by mentioning that his last Liverpool miss was at the King Power on the 28th of December. Despite this, Mohamed Salah smashed the ball past the dive of Ederson. 2-1.
Nunez then tried to add to Liverpool’s goals by flicking a head that landed narrowly wide. Fabio Carvalho was then introduced for his debut and made an immediate impact.
Carvalho was involved in the build-up to the game-clinching goal by winning the ball in midfield before playing it wide to Mohamed Salah who crossed it to Andrew Robertson. The Scottish Captain glanced a header into the path of Nunez who scored from three yards out. He was booked for taking his top off in celebration but having clinched the win for Liverpool, Klopp and the Reds could not care less.
Despite the game is over, there was still time for the worst miss of the game. Phil Foden’s shot rebounded to him and he hit the crossbar from four yards out when it was easier to score.
In all honesty, the game was over but it would have done Haaland the world of good to start with a goal. This game was very similar to the FA Cup semi-final, a game dominated by Liverpool but had City finished their chances the result may have been different.
We may not have learned all that much with a very long way to go before the real medals and trophies are given out but it is advantage Liverpool for now.
Adrian – 7/10: Some wayward passes from the Spaniard but overall was solid and did well when called into action. Might have done better for the goal but considering the lack of football he has had a decent performance.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9/10: Looks to have improved defensively over the summer and is more physical. Took his goal well and was key to most of Liverpool’s early attacks.
Joel Matip – 8.5/10: Dealt well with the Manchester City attack, one of the most underrated players in the Premier League and did well again.
Virgil Van Dijk – 8/10: A solid game up against one of the world’s best and looked ominous as usual. Another big season is in store for the Dutchman.
Andrew Robertson – 8/10: If you were to be critical then he was at fault for the goal but credit must go to Foden and Alvarez for their expertly timed runs. Intelligently headed the ball into the path of Nunez for the third goal, yet another assist for the Scotsman.
Fabinho – 7/10: A quiet game for the Brazillian but a full 90 minutes and another winners medal to add to his tally.
Henderson – 8.5/10: Was everywhere, putting pressure on, tackling, playing penetrating passes. Liverpool have been questioned for not bringing in another midfielder but should their captain continue to play like this then the naysayers will have to take note.
Thiago – 8.5/10: Controlled the midfield expertly and showed levels to the Manchester City midfield. The way he plays is almost effortless and yet he is a tireless worker for Klopp’s men. Could be key to Liverpool’s chances in the Premier League this season.
Mohamed Salah – 9.5/10: Brilliant, almost everything that Liverpool did well, Salah was involved in, tormented Joao Cancelo and Nathan Ake and added to his all-around excellent play with a goal and then set up Robertson to assist Nunez. What is more important for Liverpool is that he looks like he is very much enjoying himself after an uncertain summer in which he was rumoured to be leaving Anfield. Was smart with the assist for Trent Alexander-Arnold as well.
Roberto Firmino – 6.5/10: Described by Jurgen Klopp as “the heart and soul” of Liverpool, the Brazilian who is linked to Juventus. He had a mixed game and was replaced by Darwin Nunez on 59 minutes. This is a big season for the Brazilian who is competing with Nunez and Jota for the centre-forward role. It is of my opinion he will stay at Liverpool (particularly after Sadio Mane and Divock Origi’s departures) but with the arrival of Fabio Carvalho and the emergence of Harvey Elliot and Kaide Gordon he may be the next of the old guard to exit Anfield.
Luis Diaz – 9/10: What a player! Made Kyle Walker look quite average today and showed his pace by beating the Englishmen on multiple occasions. One of Liverpool’s most creative players and was only replaced late on to give Carvalho a chance.
Darwin Nunez (59th minute) – 9/10: The game of Darwin Nunez was expertly shown today. What he lacks in technical ability he makes up for with his expert positioning and runs and his world-class poacher’s instinct. Had a couple of sighters to warm himself up but in what was billed as the Nunez vs Haaland match-up, he owned it with more goals and assists and only five fewer touches in a 1/3 of the playing time. Looks to be the real deal and could easily break the 20-goal mark this season. It will be interesting to see if Klopp uses him more often than the Portuguese, Diogo Jota.
Harvey Elliott (73rd minute) – 7/10: Did what Elliott does, runs at defenders and creates space for his teammates. The perfect sub for Jurgen Klopp who needed his energy to counter the sucker punch that was the Alvarez equaliser. Has a bright future at Liverpool FC and has had an impressive return since his injury against Leeds last season.
James Milner (74th minute) – 7/10: The experience Liverpool needed to calm the game down, did his usual with some intelligent runs at right-back but was composed and assured.
Naby Keita (85th minute) – N/A: Only real impact was winning a corner off Ruben Dias after his shot was deflected behind.
Fabio Carvalho (90th minute) – 7.5/10: Big impact, played the Liverpool way with his high press and tackle of Bernando Silva. His run made room for Mohamed Salah who swung the ball into Robertson to set up Nunez. A real star may play a bit part role this season but one of the next generation that should excite Liverpool fans.
Curtis Jones (90+5 minute) – N/A: A classic see-out time substitution.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp – 9/10: Made the right subs, brought on youth to give experience and got the Starting Eleven spot on and it gave Nunez the perfect chance to influence the game off the bench.
* Before I do the ratings, I want to make a quick point about sportsmanship. No matter how disappointed you are to lose you should have humility and respect and with the Citizens refusing to take the runners-up medals it just left a sore ending to what had been the best Community Shield final in years.
Ederson – 7/10: Made a smart save to deny Darwin Nunez early on but showed his rashness by fouling the same man earlier on (despite it being offside). Could do very little with any of the goals either though he got a touch to Nunez’s downward header.
Kyle Walker – 4/10: Made two backward glances towards Andrew Robertson before realising he might have to defend the Scotsman at the back post for Nunez’s goal and as such was beaten in the air rather easily. Has a habit of using his speed to make up for poor positional awareness but it cost him this time.
Ruben Dias – 5/10: His handball ultimately lost his side the game and his consistent complaints earned him a yellow card in the process. Also was too far away from his man in the first place which was why he had to reach out so far to try and block it.
Nathan Ake – 3/10: A surprise start and one that Pep may regret. His deflection took the ball away from Ederson as Trent’s shot looked at a comfortable height for the Brazilian. Was caught out too easily for Nunez’s chance as he dived in when it was not necessary to. Manchester City will need Laporte to return soon but there are fears he will be out until September.
Joao Cancelo – 5/10: Gave Salah too much time and space for the first goal, probably fearing a repeat of Salah’s wonder goal against City last season. Positioning was poor for the penalty and he was nowhere near Ake to support him with Salah. Combined with Ake he also allowed Salah too much time for his cross to Robertson for the third.
Rodri – 6/10: Having watched the first goal with a few viewings, Rodri looks lost in the box and allows Trent too much space to curl the ball in, furthermore he turns his back to the right-back for the shot. Created a decent chance for Riyad Mahrez.
Kevin De Bruyne – 7/10: Had a quiet game and yet played an exquisite ball into Phil Foden for the eventual goal. Looked on a different wavelength to Haaland and both cut frustrated figures throughout. Will take this as a rusty game and nothing more. Hooked for Gundogan after the equaliser.
Bernando Silva – 7/10: Would have been higher had he not been carelessly caught in possession for the third goal. Was very quick with the ball at his feet, as ever, and whipped in a great cross for Haaland at the end of the first half. His chance created for Phil Foden at the end showed his quality dribbling at his opponents.
Riyad Mahrez – 6/10: Got into good positions but should have done better with the header at the end of the first half which went straight at Adrian and then his chance early in the second half, once again straight at the Spaniard. Replaced by Alvarez.
Haaland – 5.5/10: His movement was great but his overall game was lacking, for someone tipped to take the Premier League by storm he was shown up by Darwin Nunez as Haaland struggled to make the runs in behind. Having Álvarez to play off helped and Manchester City should explore that front two dynamics but his poor display was capped off by his terrible miss at the end.
Jack Grealish – 5/10: Typical performance, a large amount of dribbling but with a lack of end product, poor defensively for the opener by just standing there and watching Salah take the ball down and find the wide-open Trent. Was replaced by Phil Foden.
Julian Alvarez (58th minute)- 8/10: Brought some much-needed energy to the Sky Blues and scored a poacher’s goal to equalise. Made some decent runs and allowed for more creativity in behind the Liverpool defence. A promising start.
Phil Foden (58th minute) – 8/10: Probably Manchester City’s best player. Excellent run and persistence led to the goal and his sharp shot almost helped City get a consolation at the end of the game.
Ilkay Gundogan – N/A Minimal involvement in the game.
Pep Guardiola – 7/10: His subs were decent and add an extra spark to a sluggish team but Stones over Ake may have been the better option for this match.
After winning two domestic trophies last season, Liverpool has added the Community Shield for the first time in 16 years. Whilst the Community Shield is labelled a friendly, the chance to put one over Manchester City should be encouraging for the Reds and should remind those who believe Liverpool is now a weaker side that it is very dangerous to bet against them.
As for Manchester City, the Community Shield was always an opportunity to get more minutes under their belt before the season starts next week but the nature of the way they played will be worrying for Pep. It is key to note that the Community Shield final is only Manchester City’s third pre-season match and an injury to Aymeric Laporte meant they were not at full strength.
With all this being said, we should all look forward to another epic Liverpool-Manchester City contest on all fronts and based on pre-season there is plenty to be excited about for each side’s new signings.
The final would always have worked out the same, a small psychological win for the Champions but viewed as a good training and fitness outing for the losers. Both sides will take the positives and negatives like any other game and use them to help guide their respective side to the Premier League title.