KING POWER STADIUM, LEICESTER — The Community Shield promised to be a tale of two new strikers, and that’s exactly what it delivered, as Liverpool defeated Manchester City to complete Jurgen Klopp’s trophy collection.
Darwin Nunez came off the bench to wrap up a 3-1 victory for the Reds. Erling Haaland, meanwhile, struggled to find his feet in his own competitive debut.
In the annual clash of the reigning Premier League champions and FA Cup holders, Liverpool began in the ascendancy, with the likes of Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson finding plenty of joy down their right flank.
In a first half understandably full of misplaced passes, poor touches and minor blips of concentration, the Reds struck through Trent Alexander-Arnold. He gave Liverpool a deserved lead with his effort curling outwards onto the back post and in. The head of Nathan Ake glanced the ball on the way in, but the goal primarily came from both Alexander-Arnold and the man who assisted him, Salah, being given too much room to operate.
In the second period, City gained a foothold and eventually an equaliser, with Argentinian Julian Alvarez enjoying a dream start to life at City with a debut goal. Phil Foden’s first-time strike was parried by Adrian to Alvarez, who made no mistake with 20 minutes remaining, even if it needed the aid of VAR for an offside call to be overturned.
Despite a short resurgence from Pep Guardiola’s men in which they briefly threatened to turn the screw, Liverpool then wrestled back control. A header from Nunez struck the hand of Ruben Dias, with VAR again called to action to award the spot-kick. Salah stepped up and fired it low to Ederson’s left.
Nunez’s head was set to play one more pivotal role, though, as he stooped low to finish off the curtain-raiser in style. The centre-forward had been cheered to the rafters all afternoon, and enjoyed his special moment with the fans, ripping off his shirt in celebration. Try debating the competitiveness of this game with him.
Klopp has now won every trophy available to him as Liverpool boss, lifting the Community Shield at the third time of asking, following penalty shoot-out losses to Arsenal and City previously. He’s assembled one of the top two teams on the planet, and is unfortunate the other one of those is City.
After narrowly missing out on the title to Guardiola on the final day of last season, and failing to win any of his last five Premier League games against the Citizens, Klopp has now set down an early marker in the next chapter of this thrilling rivalry.
All eyes were on Haaland, the barely-believable 22-year-old whose physical presence will frighten many a centre-back this season. Neither Virgil van Dijk nor Joel Matip felt the fear in Leicester, though.
He may well become the difference-maker in a title race which will surely again be decided by the finest of margins, but Haaland will need time. This isn’t a case of plonking a hulking striker into a system designed for an out-and-out No.9 and bombing balls towards him. The Norwegian looked like he hadn’t got to grips with Guardiola’s system, understandably.
At times, he didn’t know whether to stay or go, with Kevin De Bruyne visibly exasperated on one occasion. Haaland was stuck in a no-mans land, and failed to put himself about in a battle with Liverpool’s backline.
There were two moments in which he shrugged off Henderson and Andy Robertson with ease. But there’s a long way to go with his movement and understanding alongside Jack Grealish – who was also poor this evening – and Riyad Mahrez.
He had one effort saved by Adrian in the opening period, sliding a left-footed effort on target after the aforementioned dispatching of Robertson. He followed it up moments later by snatching at a cross in mid-air, letting a golden chance slip just before half-time.
After the break, he again failed to get himself into the game, dealt with relative ease and overshadowed by substitutes Foden and Alvarez. His one big opportunity came in stoppage-time, and although it wouldn’t have altered the result, felt like a big moment.
Even though it wouldn’t have papered over the underlying issue and the overall performance, the mood could’ve been drastically changed. With Adrian already lying on the ground after saving a Foden effort, the ball fell to Haaland with the goal gaping. The former Borussia Dortmund man couldn’t keep his effort down, hitting the bar and greeted by enormous laughter and cheers from the Merseyside fans.
In his post-match press conference, with the faint sound of Liverpool players shouting “ole” and banging makeshift drums a few rooms down, Guardiola played down any worry: “He had chances. He fought a lot. He made movements.
“It’s good for him to understand, to see the reality of a new country. He has incredible quality. He will do it. He has an incredible sense. He’s going to help us a lot. He was there – he had the chances.”
Thiago Alcantara is very good at football. Yes, it’s obvious. Yes, it’s met with scorn every time it’s said on social media by those who believe he’s “overrated”. But he is an absolute joy to watch.
In a shortened preseason, it was extremely predictable that this game would be characterised by players slightly off the pace, and yet Thiago looked in midseason form. Liverpool may only get him for half of the games due to his appalling injury record, but those games will be full of mesmerising control of the ball. Given those fitness concerns, it’s a massive, and surprising, boost for Klopp that the Spain international looks up to the level already.
He executed some lovely first-time passes, including in the buildup to Alexander-Arnold’s opener. Whether it was a case of stretching the play, keeping the ball moving in a very tight space, or driving forward by finding gaps where nobody else did, Thiago looked sensational. The biggest ovation of course came when he helped out defensively – in particular in barging Kyle Walker to protect possession.
Thiago dominated the midfield battle, with City — who had played two fewer preseason games than Liverpool — looking disjointed in that area. More concerning was down their left flank, where the Reds made hay throughout the 90 minutes.
The combination of Grealish, Rodri and Cancelo struggled to cope. In particular, Cancelo was caught out of position far too many times, consistently causing presentable Liverpool opportunities. Now with the No.7 on his back, he seemed to take that too literally with his area of operation. A few balls bouncing off him into touch epitomised the Portuguese’s season-opener to forget.
The #HendoShuffle 🤩🏆 pic.twitter.com/oict2hVXIu
He could be slightly forgiven in that he was facing an imperious opponent in Salah, who breezed past Cancelo as many times as he gave him twisted blood on the dribble. The Egyptian King has provided Liverpool’s standout moment of the summer in signing a new contract, and looked a man on a mission here — ready to spend the rest of 2022 claiming the individual awards he cares for so much, in a positive sense.
Salah was an absolute livewire on that right wing, and at times had his own little game going on with Henderson, who drifted out there to great effect. The captain was extremely dynamic, teeing up chances through the first half especially, stretching City.
Without Sadio Mane’s goals last season, Liverpool would have endured two league defeats and an FA Cup semi-final exit against City. His goals don’t even tell half the story, so the worry over his departure and its impact on a very tight rivalry was understandable.
Despite the Liverpool fans’ undying support of him through the first half, Roberto Firmino didn’t look capable of filling the central void — Mane had, after all, effectively replaced the Brazilian by moving inside last season — and the importance of Nunez settling in quickly was clear.
The Uruguayan showed endeavour from the moment he stepped on the field midway during the second period, looking relatively in tune with the Reds’ midfielders as he latched onto through balls and got involved in physical battles with the opposing centre-backs.
He ended up making two game-deciding contributions via winning the penalty and scoring his header. As he sank to his knees at the full-time whistle, the joy and relief was evident. A couple of weeks prior, Andy Carroll had been trending on social media in response to Nunez’s preseason debut against Manchester United. The pressure could’ve easily started to mount.
Klopp used his post-match press conference to rubbish that premature criticism: “[The debut was] good. Really good. It was clear he’ll get better in time. He’ll get judged on the first sight, but that doesn’t help. [The criticism in preseason was] a joke. The impact from the bench was really exceptional.”
The Sporting News was live from the East Midlands this evening, with live updates and commentary below.
LIV — Alexander-Arnold (21st min)
MC — Alvarez (70th min)
LIV — Salah (83rd min)
LIV — Nunez (94th min)
FULL-TIME: LIVERPOOL WIN THE 2022 COMMUNITY SHIELD! Nunez falls to his knees in celebration, as Klopp gets ready to lift a third trophy of the calendar year.
96th min: Wow! Haaland has a wry smile on his face as he misses a near-open goal. Bearing down on net with Adrian already on the floor after saving Foden’s strike, Haaland hits the bar. A day to forget for the new boy.
*Video only available in USA:
Erling Haaland really missed this 😳 pic.twitter.com/rfs1TGRaEw
95th min: After an impressive display, Salah departs the field for Curtis Jones.
94th min: GOAL! Nunez scores on his debut! The Uruguayan stoops low to head in and seal the game. 3-1 to Liverpool.
*Video only available in USA:
DARWIN NUNEZ WINS IT FOR LIVERPOOL! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/wKeC1zkydK
92nd min: Haaland has the ball in the net, but it had clearly already gone out of play before Foden hooked it back into the No.9. At the other end, some brief worry for the other star signing as Nunez goes down injured.
91st min: Hope for City, as a seven-minute chunk of added time is announced.
90th min: Another debut here, as Fabio Carvalho emerges from the Reds bench to replace Luis Diaz.
88th min: Robertson steams in to dispossess Bernardo Silva, but can’t keep his effort down. If there’s another late goal here, it looks to be Liverpool’s.
86th min: The Reds are on the up again, as Salah torments Cancelo again before eventually Elliott plays in Keita, whose effort is saved. From the resulting corner, Nunez’s header goes wide.
85th min: Naby Keita replaces Thiago, who has been superb this evening.
83rd min: GOAL! Liverpool are back in front, as Salah puts the penalty low to Ederson’s left corner and just past the Brazilian, who dived the right way. 2-1.
*Video only available in USA:
SALAH CONVERTS THE PENALTY TO GIVE LIVERPOOL THE LEAD 🔴 pic.twitter.com/k5jHEyk0QP
82nd min: PENALTY! Decision overturned, and Salah has a chance to get off the mark from the spot.
81st min: We’re now going to VAR for the possible penalty!
80th min: Nunez has a header which clearly strikes the hand of Dias, but howls of “handball” from the Liverpool faithful behind that goal are waved away.
76th min: It’s like-for-like alterations in the Reds’ lineup, with Milner slotting in at right-back and Elliott getting into the play immediately just ahead of him. For City, a Bernardo Silva effort loops over but looked to be dangerous.
74th min: Changes on both sides. De Bruyne, who has had a poor afternoon, is off for Ilkay Gundogan. Klopp brings on James Milner and Harvey Elliott for Alexander-Arnold and Henderson.
72nd min: GOAL! VAR checks the goal and rules Foden to have been onside in the build-up! Alvarez makes his mark within 14 minutes, and we’re all square.
*Video only available in USA:
JULIAN ALVAREZ SCORES HIS FIRST GOAL FOR MAN CITY 💥
The goal was confirmed after VAR had a look. pic.twitter.com/TUUIoxr28j
70th min: Alvarez has the ball in the net but it’s ruled out! Foden steams in at the back post and his first-time effort is stopped by Adrian, but the rebound is converted by the Argentinian new boy, only to be pulled back for the England international’s run.
64th min: Nunez with a big chance. He latches onto an error and plays it first time to Henderson, who in return tees up the former Benfica man on the run. Nunez can’t lift it over Ederson, however, and the dream debut remains on ice.
59th min: Drama for Nunez already! He takes on Ake one-on-one and bears down on goal, before being brought down by Ederson after dragging his touch wide. However, instead of a penalty, the referee rightly pulls it back for offside instead.
58th min: New signing Julian Alvarez makes his City debut, coming on Mahrez. Phil Foden is on, too, for compatriot Grealish. For Liverpool, Nunez gets the biggest cheer of the day as he arrives in place of Firmino.
54th min: Both sides having their moments early in this second period as it settles into a fairly even rhythm. Diaz is roaming to good effect, dropping deep and central at times to spray balls along the ground. Robertson is making headway in the space left down the left.
47th min: City start the second half on top, as Rodri finds Mahrez with a lofted pass into the six-yard box. The Algerian brings it under control but his relatively weak effort is parried by Adrian.
46th min: We’re back in action at the King Power. No substitutions at the interval.
HALF-TIME: It’s 1-0, and the Reds are on course to win a third trophy of 2022.
45th min: The half finishes with Liverpool on the attack again, Thiago finding himself in acres of space on the break, before playing in Salah, whose effort goes gratefully into the arms of Ederson.
41st min: Klopp is furious on the touchline as the referee fails to blow up for an Alexander-Arnold injury. The England international was clattered into by a charging Cancelo, but the City attack continued.
40th min: City have begun to slightly turn the screw as we approach half-time. It’s been a good little spell from Guardiola’s men, with the latest effort seeing Mahrez fire into Adrian’s arms from the right.
*Video only available in USA:
Haaland missed the chance to bring City level 👀 pic.twitter.com/hUnxTwFZ9N
34th min: Haaland gets away his first effort and scuffs his second. The hulking centre-forward shrugs off Robertson with ease before sliding a left-footed effort into Adrian, before the clearance is eventually put back into the six-yard box by Bernardo Silva, but Haaland is unable to make a good connection in the air. It’s a warning sign for Liverpool.
32nd min: Nunez is greeted by the Liverpool fans for the first time as he warms up in front of them, with a noise only beaten by the goal celebration so far. The Uruguayan will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing this City back-line. Meanwhile, Henderson loses it with Alexander-Arnold in a similar area, bellowing at his right-back after he gave away a needless foul.
25th min: Chance for City to equalise, as Riyad Mahrez finds himself in plenty of space just outside the Liverpool area, playing in De Bruyne. The Belgian’s low effort goes just wide. At the other end, Henderson yet again breaks down the right, where City are really struggling, but the move eventually falters with Roberto Firmino’s effort.
21st min: GOAL! Trent Alexander-Arnold opens the scoring for Liverpool! A Thiago ball reaches Salah on the right of the area, who lays it onto the right-back, with his effort curling outwards onto the post and in. It took a slight glance off Ake on the way in, but looked to be heading on target regardless.
*Video only available in UK:
GOAL for @LFC 🔴
Salah lays one on for Alexander-Arnold who curls his strike beyond Ederson 🤫
Watch Liverpool v Man City 👉 https://t.co/aSJBvdDok1 pic.twitter.com/i8VQyiMka8
*Video only available in USA:
TRENT SCORES TO GIVE LIVERPOOL THE LEAD AGAINST MAN CITY 🎯 pic.twitter.com/PlfvOxqJnQ
19th min: Ederson rescues City as Henderson capitalises on an error down the league champions’ left flank, with his tantalising ball in narrowly being deflected out of the onrushing Luis Diaz’s path.
14th min: An Andy Robertson header at the back post is the latest Liverpool chance, with the Scot very nearly finishing off a patient Liverpool move.
12th min: As one would expect at this time of year, slightly-miscued passes and poor touches are the order of the day so far. Other than Thiago playing some predictably sumptuous balls, the execution is off all round, even if the energy isn’t.
8th min: De Bruyne latches onto a loose ball in the final third and breaks into the box, with his left-footed strike deflected into the side-netting by Van Dijk.
6th min: A very frenetic start here. De Bruyne’s eyes light up as he spots a run through the pair of Liverpool centre-backs, but can’t quite squeeze it through, while at the other end Salah can’t quite bring a long ball under his spell despite a nice first touch. Cue the “curse of the commentator”, but this isn’t ending goalless.
3rd min: Liverpool are feeling this early on. Salah breaks down the right, latching onto a long ball and getting past Cancelo with ease. The Egyptian’s effort goes into the side netting, though.
2nd min: Luis Diaz with the first half-chance of the game, nearly capitalising as Rodri made a mess of clearing a Jordan Henderson cross.
KICK-OFF: The 2022/23 season is officially underway!
🔈As was the case at Wembley last season, Liverpool fans make their voices heard during the national anthem.#CommunityShield pic.twitter.com/7V2NmVq98k
2 mins to KO: Fans are in, players are out, trophies are on the pedestals: we’re ready to go. Liverpool fans have drowned out the national anthem with boos once again, as was the case at Wembley last season.
15 mins to KO: Reflecting on the backend of 2021/22, which saw him win the Premier League Golden Boot for a third time in five years but miss out on the quadruple, Salah said in the programme: “I always go into every season wanting to win the Golden Boot and it’s one of my favourite awards. But I would happily have given all the individual awards away last season just to win the Premier League on the last day and then the Champions League. That would’ve been great and I would have taken that 100%.”
30 mins to KO: The stadium is beginning to fill up and Liverpool fans, as is often the case as ‘neutral’ venues, making the early noise. Haaland is out to boos from the travelling Reds, with a special ovation reserved for Mo Salah as he appeared on the big screens, having now signed a new contract.
40 mins to KO: Last term, the Community Shield was lifted by today’s hosts, Leicester. Usually this game is played at Wembley, but the national stadium is currently occupied with the Women’s Euro 2022, as England prepare to take on Germany in tomorrow night’s final.
50 mins to KO: Since Manchester United in 2010, the team winning the Community Shield has a very poor record in going on to win the Premier League. Only City, after defeating Chelsea 2-0 in 2018, have gone on to lift the title later that season.
1 hour to KO: Team news is here! Haaland starts for City, but Nunez has only been named on the bench for Liverpool.
Our line-up for today’s #CommunityShield meeting with @ManCity 📋
🔵 TEAM NEWS 🔵
XI | Ederson, Walker, Dias (C), Ake, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Bernardo, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish
SUBS | Ortega Moreno, Phillips, Stones, Gundogan, Alvarez, Foden, Mbete, Palmer, Wilson-Esbrand#ManCity | @HaysWorldwide pic.twitter.com/CqlGvcp3CQ
1 hour 15 mins to KO: Liverpool enter the new season having missed out on the Premier League title in agonising fashion, yet again, to City in May. Klopp has used his programme notes here at the King Power to downplay any frustration, though: “Our respect for this City team could not be higher. They arrive here as champions and, though we can be incredibly proud for pushing them all the way, they deserved their title and now our job is to start the race all over again.”
1 hour 30 mins to KO: For City, this evening represents only their third game of preseason — the previous two being wins over Bayern Munich and Club America — in a summer which has seen some intriguing changes to the squad. Haaland and Kalvin Phillips have arrived, with several key departures including Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho.
1 hour 45 mins to KO: Liverpool have lost their last two Community Shield games, making this the only trophy Klopp is yet to lift as manager of the Reds. Most recently, as league champions they fell to a penalty shootout defeat against Arsenal in 2020, after a year before suffering the same fate versus today’s opponents. Both ties ended 1-1.
🔙 The season starts here! We’re live from the #CommunityShield as Premier League champions Man City take on FA Cup holders Liverpool. #LIVMCI #LFC #MCFC pic.twitter.com/Uk0TSgq1lr
2 hours to KO: Welcome to The Sporting News’ live coverage from King Power Stadium in cloudy Leicester, as Liverpool and Man City raise the curtain on the new season.
Liverpool lineup (4-3-3): Adrian (GK) — Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson — Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago — Salah, Firmino, Diaz
Man City lineup (4-3-3): Ederson (GK) — Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo — De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva — Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish
*All odds refer to regulation time.
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