It was the tale of two strikers in the Community Shield, as Darwin Nunez found the net and Erling Haaland was left to rue missed chances.
New £85m man Nunez scored his first big goal in a Reds shirt as Liverpool made a big statement with a commanding win over their Premier League title rivals Man City at the King Power Stadium.
For Haaland, though, it was 90 minutes of frustration which was capped off with a stunning miss as he blazed the ball over the bar from close range with an open goal at his mercy.
With just one week until the new Premier League season, the Community Shield was a good test for Liverpool and City ahead of what will surely be another close-fought title race.
It was the Reds that edged the tie on Saturday, with Pep Guardiola’s men ultimately unable to reflect the side that secured the title last term in what was a breathless game.
Liverpool were full of energy as the clash got underway, and soon enough Trent Alexander-Arnold opened the scoring at the King Power.
Thiago pinged it out to Reds talisman Mohamed Salah before tapping it to the full-back.
And Trent took his chance, curling it in from distance and taking a small clip off of City’s Nathan Ake on its way in with 21 minutes on the clock.
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Inevitably, all eyes were on City’s new striker, Haaland.
He was booed by the Liverpool fans before the tie, and the Norwegian just couldn’t find the net, with Guardiola’s team looking unable to switch back to being used to playing with a centre-forward.
“People have talked about the way Man City might change their game with Haaland, and the one thing he has done is he has offered himself in behind the opposition’s defence,” talkSPORT’s co-commentator and former Premier League star Stuart Pearce said.
“But City aren’t putting him in and haven’t looked to put the ball through to him enough, for me.
“Feed him, otherwise he’ll get frustrated and not make those runs.”
As the game edged towards the 60th minute mark, Klopp introduced marquee summer signing Nunez, who quickly found his feet and saw a one-of-one chance denied by City keeper Ederson’s face.
Just ten minutes on, Guardiola’s side drew themselves level through Julian Alvarez, who had an instant impact off the bench.
VAR overruled an initial offside call as the ball found itself in the net after a goal mouth scramble – a dream start for Alvarez.
The momentum was with City after their equaliser, but Liverpool were soon back in front with Nunez involved.
The Uruguayan flicked on a headed in the area that hit the outstretched hand of Ruben Dias, with Craig Pawson eventually pointing to the spot after a VAR check.
Salah stepped up and, sure enough, Liverpool’s star man smashed it into the bottom right hand corner to make it 2-1.
The Reds almost went 3-1 up with five minutes left, with Nunez against going close.
talkSPORT’s Joe Shennan said the Uruguayan could have been what Liverpool were missing.
“You could say Liverpool have been missing a natural centre-forward, and Nunez could be exactly what they were looking for,” talkSPORT co-commentator said.
Then, as if it was meant to be, Nunez got on the scoresheet with a diving header and took his shirt off as he celebrated securing the Community Shield for his side.
“You expect that to be the first of many,” added Pearce.
Haaland’s afternoon was summed up as the tie came to a close.
Phil Foden smashed at goal, but his effort cannoned off Adrian and fell perfectly back to Haaland.
The City forward was just a few yards out and in acres of space but smashed it onto the bar and over.
“I don’t think he’ll miss an easier chance this season,” Pearce said.
“Good movement, he’s kept himself onside, but he’s just got underneath the ball. It’s a bad one.”
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