Liverpool vs Manchester City. FA Community Shield.
The King Power Stadium.
Match report as new Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez steals the headlines with a super cameo appearance to help his side to victory over Man City in the Community Shield at the King Power Stadium
Sunday 31 July 2022 07:20, UK
Darwin Nunez's superb cameo from the bench helped Liverpool lay down an early marker ahead of the new season as they beat Manchester City 3-1 to win the Community Shield at the King Power Stadium.
Many of the headlines ahead of the game were focused on Man City's new striker Erling Haaland, who was handed the opportunity to impress from the start, but it was Nunez's late introduction from the bench - including a stoppage-time goal - that swung the game in Liverpool's favour and grabbed all the plaudits.
Haaland struggled to stamp his mark on the game as Liverpool dominated the early stages, and their early control was rewarded when Trent Alexander-Arnold's long-range strike took a flick off the head of Nathan Ake before beating the dive of Ederson and finding the far corner.
City clawed their way back into the game after the break as substitute Julian Alvarez bundled the ball home from close range, with the goal eventually given after VAR overturned an original offside call.
However, it was Liverpool's new striker that stole the show when he was eventually introduced from the bench - it was his goalbound header that was blocked by Ruben Dias' arm, and after a VAR review, referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot.
It handed Mohamed Salah the chance to edge the Reds ahead and he made no mistake, firing the ball past Ederson before Nunez capped a superb day for Klopp's men, heading home from close range as last season's FA Cup winners secured the first silverware of the season.
Roy Keane speaking to ITV:
“Liverpool looked a bit sharper, were a bit more direct, they created the better chances and were the better team. But there is a week to go yet. City looked slow out of the blocks last year but it’s about how you finish, and City are good at that.”
Liverpool set a blistering pace at the King Power Stadium with Mohamed Salah at the heart of it. The Egyptian waltzed into the penalty area and past Joao Cancelo, but his powerful drive could only find the side-netting.
Man City weren't really in the contest in the early stages, but out of nothing Kevin De Bruyne burst past Virgil van Dijk, but again, his low strike nestled into the side-netting.
However, Liverpool's continued dominance eventually told in the 21st minute.
Liverpool: Adrian (7), Alexander-Arnold (8), Matip (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (6), Henderson (7), Thiago (7), Diaz (7), Salah (8), Firmino (6).
Subs: Nunez (8), Elliott (6), Milner (6), Carvalho (n/a), Jones (n/a).
Man City: Ederson (5), Walker (6), Dias (5), Ake (5), Cancelo (4), Rodrigo (6), Bernardo (6), De Bruyne (6), Mahrez (5), Haaland (5), Grealish (4).
Subs: Foden (6), Alvarez (7), Gundogan (6).
Man of the match: Darwin Nunez.
Thiago Alcantara's cross was brought down by Salah who rolled a pass back into the path of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who whipped a shot which just flicked off the head of Nathan Ake and went in off the far post.
It was proving to be a difficult assignment for Man City as they struggled to get new recruit Erling Haaland into the game.
However, two chances fell his way in a matter of seconds towards the end of the first half.
First, he used his physicality to hold off Andy Robertson before seeing his low shot parried by Adrian.
Seconds later, the Norway striker drifted away from Van Dijk to reach Bernardo Silva's cross, but he failed to make enough contact with a hooked shot. The rebound did fall for Riyad Mahrez but he was unable to generate enough power to beat Adrian at his near post as Liverpool kept hold of their lead going into the break.
Nunez finally made it onto the pitch with half-an-hour to go and with almost his first touch he was brought down by Ederson. However, referee Craig Pawson was spared a decision to make by an offside flag.
The Uruguay international was then played in through the middle by Jordan Henderson but Ederson charged out to block with his chest.
Manchester City's new summer signing Erling Haaland was named in the starting line-up for the Community Shield, but Liverpool's big-name arrival Darwin Nunez was left on the bench at the King Power Stadium in Leicester.
Haaland, a £51m arrival from Borussia Dortmund, was named up front alongside Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish, with fellow new signing Kalvin Phillips named among the substitutes.
Nunez, a potential £85m club-record signing, continued his integration into his new surroundings on the bench despite scoring four in one half of a friendly against RB Leipzig.
Roberto Firmino began as the Reds' central striker with Joel Matip preferred as Virgil van Dijk's centre-back partner as aside from Nunez manager Jurgen Klopp went with the strongest side available to him.
As the game became more open, counter-attacking opportunities increased City capitalised from one. Although Adrian saved Phil Foden's initial effort, he fumbled the rebound to allow another substitute in Alvarez to force the ball home.
It didn't take long for Liverpool to restore their lead. When Nunez' header hit the arm of Ruben Dias, Pawson was advised to consult the pitchside monitor and he awarded a penalty. Salah stepped forward and hammered home inside Ederson's left-hand post eight minutes from time.
And Nunez rounded off an encouraging Liverpool performance with a close-range header from Robertson's knockdown in added time.
Sky Sports' Peter Smith:
On a day when all the focus at the Community Shield was on the star strikers recruited by Manchester City and Liverpool this summer, it was the Reds' Darwin Nunez who emphatically outshone his counterpart.
City struggled to get the best from £51m Erling Haaland from the start but Liverpool's £85m man looked right at home in their frontline from the moment he came on with 30 minutes to play.
It was a superb substitute performance from Nunez, capped by a stooping header to wrap up the 3-1 win in which the 23-year-old showed his brilliant combination of speed, skill and strength to cause real problems for the City backline.
In contrast, Haaland's glaring miss from six yards out in the final moments summed up a frustrating evening for him and his team-mates who never seemed sure how to combine with him.
Haaland will of course come good - his track record is incredible - but the early indications are City's adaptation to having a focal point to their attack may take a little time.
After winning the title last season without a striker, Pep Guardiola now has one of the world's best at his disposal but the switch didn't look straightforward at the King Power Stadium.
Haaland may have scored inside 11 minutes on his first City appearance against Bayern Munich last weekend but here he managed just three touches during an opening half-hour in which his team-mates seemed reluctant to cross from open play. His runs were missed and Virgil van Dijk stepped in to beat him to balls towards his feet.
After 30 minutes there came some more promising signs and Haaland had a couple of chances in quick succession when he shot at Adrian and then miscued a volley when he went with the wrong foot. But an easily-intercepted Joao Cancelo pass in the direction of Haaland after the break was followed by a misunderstanding with Kevin de Bruyne and a lasting feeling that City weren't playing to his strengths.
At the other end, Nunez was immediately involved when he came on, twice played in by team-mates to dash through one-on-one and repeatedly picked out with crosses, winning a penalty with a header from one and scoring Liverpool's third from another. It looked like he'd been there for a long time.
The other players who have scored on their debut for Liverpool under Klopp are Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk. Nunez will have to put together many successful seasons to match the contributions those players have made to the team - but the early signs are very promising. Especially when contrasted with the disjointed attacking display of Haaland and his City team-mates at the other end.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "It was good, it was really good. It is clear it will get better with time. We live in a world where everybody gets judged on first sight and that's not helpful for anybody but it happens constantly.
"In the first few games (of pre-season) we were not even close to the fitness level of today and then when [Nunez] came on, we passed each ball for him to chase it and after the third ball he was completely killed and then everybody judged his first touches and these kind of things. It's just a joke but we have to live with that, he will deal with it brilliantly. We are patient and we know he can do good stuff.
"We all know they are a special species, strikers. The other thing everybody needs (are) little positives. That means goals, or goal involvements.
"I think Darwin would have been fine even without scoring the third one because the penalty was Millie's cross and his header. The chance he had before he did really well, but Ederson reacted brilliantly. The goal was obviously the icing on the cake, so really pleased for him.
"You could see in his face, you could see in the face of all his team-mates how happy the boys are for him and that's a really good sign after that short period of time that he is with us."
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "[Haaland] had chances, two or three in the first half, and one in the end, and always is there.
Of Haaland's glaring late miss, he added: "He is strong, another time he will put it in the net. It happened. It is football. He was there.
"He had another goal disallowed because the ball was over the line. He fought a lot and made the movements. It is good for him to see the reality of a new country and new league. He was there but today he didn't score and another day he will score. He has an incredible quality and he will do it.
"He has had just two weeks, two weeks and a half, and I am really comfortable with what we are seeing since we arrived this season.
"I am not absolutely concerned. The reality is we have two or three months ahead of us. He is going to help us."
Analysis from Sky Sports News report Paul Gilmour:
"That was a frightening tempo that Liverpool set from the very first whistle. The FA Cup winners looked the most impressive side for large spells of the game.
"Any fears that they would struggle to adapt without Sadio Mane eased by the impact of Darwin Nunez from the bench.
"The Liverpool fans have really taken to Nunez straight away. Chants of 'Nunez, Nunez' were belted out a number of times from the King Power stadium stands after his brilliant cameo.
"Fabio Carvalho also showed glimpses of his potential when introduced late on and Luis Diaz will be stronger in what is his first full season at the club.
"Andy Robertson was on the pitch being interviewed after the game, telling the supporters inside the King Power Stadium that he hopes it's the first of many trophies this season. They seem as hungry as ever."
Liverpool take on Strasbourg for a final pre-season friendly on Sunday at Anfield, before playing their first Premier League game of the season away to Fulham on Saturday August 6.
Manchester City now turn their attention to the defence of their Premier League title when they face West Ham on Sunday, August 7, live on Sky Sports Premier League - kick-off 4.30pm.