Man City 2 Liverpool 2 (Pool win 3-1 on pens): All the goals and match report
Gerrard slips again to let City score but Kop fight back
There was a moment in New York when Steven Gerrard must have thought he was taking his tear jerking script to Broadway.
The Liverpool captain’s slip up in the second half enabled Steven Jovetic to give Manchester City the lead and – so it seemed – the platform for victory. Was this an echo of last season’s title run-in? Not quite. On this occasion, the final act was more satisfying for Gerrard as Liverpool revived to win on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Although Jovetic struck twice – offering plenty of encouragement for Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini - Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling hit excellent equalisers before some appalling spot-kicks from the champions enabled Brendan Rodgers to claim a sweet scalp.
No-one will embarrass themselves talking about revenge missions - this game is a speck of dust in the overall schedule – but there was enough to keep both clubs content they’ll be going head to head in more competitive surroundings for the next nine months. Pellegrini said he had seen enough to predict City will need to fend off another Anfield title bid.
Given this was essentially a shadow boxing contest ahead of the new season, Madison Square Garden might have been a more appropriate venue than Yankee Stadium.
Although this is the home for City’s new American franchise, red shirts comfortably outnumbered blue. Liverpool also had the edge in the celebrity fanclub, Daniel Craig and Mike ‘Austin Powers’ Myers watching.
Beneath it all, there was a suspicion both clubs would not be unduly concerned by a defeat which would have reduced their chances of having to travel to Miami for the final – extending their tour schedule.
Liverpool looked especially vulnerable at the back, more so in the second half when City threatened every time they attacked. Given Rodgers opted to start with a back four more patchwork than the readjusted baseball pitch perhaps it was not so unexpected.
City were able to keep their biggest hitters on the bench until the later stages – Yaya Toure played the last 20 minutes – but they ooze class in reserve as well in the more familiar starters.
Jovetic will replenish City’s attacking options if he can stay fit and Jesus Nevas will be even stronger after his first season in England.
The Spanish winger was outstanding, particularly in the first half.
It was after the break when fatigue and lack of concentration took its toll. The match started to liven up after Gerrard’s 53rd minute error enabled Jovetic to give City the lead.
As the Liverpool skipper he tried to block Jesus Nevas’ right wing cross the ball trickled through his legs and Jovetic could tap-in. Although Henderson equalised six minutes later, Jovetic claimed his second on 67 minutes after more slack Liverpool defending. At that stage the champions looked the more accomplished side but Sterling introduced himself with a brilliant final flourish. His finishing is improving by the game and City needed Joe Hart – one of numerous second half substitutes – to be at his best to ensure the game made it to penalties. Liverpool ended the stronger side.
Kolorav, Toure and Nevas all missed for City to enable Lucas to put Liverpool top of their group with the final spot kick. The celebrations were muted.
Both Rodgers and Pellegrini will have enjoyed much of what they saw, albeit in cordial surroundings.
The atmosphere and intensity will be somewhat different when these teams meet in the Premier League next month, but there is an inescapable sense this was another joust in what is becoming a captivating rivalry.
LIVERPOOL: Jones, Kelly, Toure, Coates, Enrique, Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Coutinho, Lambert, Sturridge.
Subs: Mignolet, Johnson, Sterling, Robinson for Jones, Kelly, Enrique, Lambert (45); Can for Allen (65); Lucas for Gerrard (76), Sakho for Coates (76)
MAN CITY: Caballero, Clichy, Kolarov, Boyata, Nastasic, Fernando, Navas, Zuculini, Milner, Jovetic, Dzeko
Subs: Hart, Sinclair, Iheanacho for Caballero, Milner, Dzeko (45); Toure for Jovetic (70)