Manchester City emerged victorious in a Carabao Cup thriller at the Etihad Stadium as Nathan Ake’s first goal since April finally saw off Liverpool’s challenge.
City took the lead three times and, on the first two occasions, they were pegged back. In the second opportunity, Mohamed Salah took just one minute to restore parity after Riyad Mahrez cut inside Rodri’s brilliant cross and found the bottom corner.
But, just as he had done for Erling Haaland’s opener – and his 24th goal of the season – Kevin de Bruyne delivered a superb long-range cross after 58 minutes, which went just over the head of Nat Phillips and wide for Ake, who headed shook
City deserved to win, with Pep Guardiola on course for his fifth win in the competition, which would make him the most successful manager in their history.
The reigning Premier League champions will visit Southampton in the last eight in the week commencing January 9, 2023.
However, Liverpool – for whom Fabio Carvalho scored for the first time midway through the first half – had their chances, with Darwin Nunez firing across the face of the goal three times and from long range when he was in position to do much better. .
Nunez set up Salah for his own goal when he completely beat Aymeric Laporte, but there was no third answer for the visitors, whose defense of the trophy is at an end.
Haaland returns with a bang
The fear for City’s World Cup rivals was that a fully rested Haaland – his country Norway did not qualify for the World Cup – could cause major damage when the season resumes.
He could have scored within 20 seconds but, after his pace took him away from the Liverpool defence, the 22-year-old sent his effort past Caoimhin Kelleher and into the visitors’ goal.
But Haaland had to wait a long time for the goal. The highlight was that he set up the opener, with De Bruyne then opting to ignore the striker when City responded late in the opening period and substitute Ilkay Gundogan, who couldn’t beat Kelleher when he really should have. .
After half-time for little reward, Guardiola replaced Haaland with Phil Foden 17 minutes before full-time.
In the build-up to the game, Guardiola said he thought the players who had been in Qatar – and City had more than any Premier League club – would be in better shape than those who didn’t leave because they were training so hard.
There is merit in Guardiola’s view but as City look to get their Premier League campaign back on track in the off-season, it is doubtful that three games in a week will please Haaland more than many tried last month. Win the World Cup.
Liverpool need to find form soon
Respective managers Ferran Soriano and Billy Hogan sent letters to fans in the build-up to the game, appealing for calm following flashpoints that have marred matches between the northwest heavyweights over the past few years.
One pair of supporters ignored the message as they broke into an angry row after one took exception to the other standing in a company area to cheer Carvalho’s first Liverpool equaliser.
Like Liverpool as a whole, Carvalho’s season never really got going before the World Cup and his half-time exit doesn’t seem like an immediate success for the former Fulham man, who scored for the first time since August.
His replacement, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, had another injury-hit campaign, but the midfielder was instrumental in creating the space Nunez used for Salah’s goal.
The interesting thing now will be how Jurgen Klopp divides his squad as, after falling seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the Premier League, they really need to find form quickly.
- 25AkanjiSubstitutedStoneswind 61′minutes
- 17De Bruyne
- 16RodriBooked in 79 minutes
- 8GundoganSubstitutedBernardo Silvawind 88′minutes
- 9HaalandSubstitutedFodenwind 73′minutes
- 80PalmerSubstitutedGrealishwind 73′minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 7MillerSubstitutedPhillipswind 38′minutes
- 6Thiago AlcántaraSubstitutedKeitawind 70′minutesIt was separated in 83 minutes
- 43BajceticBooked in 35 minutesSubstitutedFabinhowind 45′minutesBooked in 79 minutes
- 19ElliottSubstitutedHendersonwind 57′minutes
- 28CarvalhoSubstitutedOxlade-Chamberlainwind 45′minutes
The match is over, Manchester City 3, Liverpool 2.
Second half ends, Manchester City 3, Liverpool 2.
Offside, Liverpool. Joe Gomez tries to head the ball, but Jordan Henderson is caught in the crossfire.
Delayed. They are ready to continue.
Late match due to an injury to Stefan Ortega (Manchester City).
Jack Grealish (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Joe Gomez (Liverpool).
Substitute, Manchester City. Bernardo Silva replaced Ilkay Gündogan due to injury.
The attempt was saved. Phil Foden (Manchester City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
The attempt was blocked. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Naby Keïta (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Rico Lewis (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Naby Keïta (Liverpool).
Foul by Rodri (Manchester City).
Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Manchester City. Approved by Andrew Robertson.
The attempt was blocked. Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Phil Foden.
Fabinho (Liverpool) is shown a yellow card.
Rodri (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card.
Rodri (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.