MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Nathan Ake’s header proved crucial as Manchester City knocked out reigning champions Liverpool in the League Cup following a dramatic 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium earlier today.
The last 16 clash marked the return to competitive action for England’s two football giants after the break for the World Cup and this latest clash is sure to be fierce.
Premier League (EPL) champions City twice took the lead through Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez but Liverpool wasted no time to equalize through goals from Fabio Carvalho and Mohamed Salah.
But after Ake made it 3-2 just before the hour mark, the visitors failed to get a third equalizing goal.
“After the World Cup and a long time of not playing, both teams are amazing with their high level and intensity,” City manager Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“Liverpool are very hard to beat, if they play well they will wipe you out.”
He added: “Kevin is playing with fire in him. He needs to find him. What a player. How many years has he been here? Eight years? He’s a true legend.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has no doubts when he says City are a “super, super, super squad that does it really well,” but still has a lot to say about its defensive fortifications.
“The goal we conceded should not have stood… We played a good game but not good enough to beat City tonight.
“There’s a lot we can improve on and we can go into the next game better and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Guardiola named six World Cup players in his main squad.
Ake, Manuel Akanji, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan have all started since starting.
Klopp too, whose squad beat Chelsea 11-10 in the long penalty shoot-out at Wembley in February to win a ninth League Cup for Reds, also fielded the best squad.
The controller from Germany put Salah down in his first appearance in the League Cup aside from the final since October 2020, Darwin Nunez and Carvalho.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was also listed on the bench but fellow England international Trent Alexander-Arnold was immediately left out while Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk also rested after the World Cup.