City draw first blood against Liverpool with Community Shield win

Manchester City's Argentinian defender Nicolas Otamendi controls the ball during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool. (AFP)
Updated 04 August 2019

City draw first blood against Liverpool with Community Shield win

  • Raheem Sterling gave City a first half lead before Joel Matip grabbed a late equalizer
  • In the shoot-out, City keeper Claudio Bravo saved from Georginio Wijnaldum

LONDON: Manchester City fired the first shot in their battle for supremacy with rivals Liverpool on Sunday as they snatched the Community Shield with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.
Raheem Sterling gave City a first half lead before Joel Matip grabbed a late equalizer for Liverpool in the annual curtain-raiser to the English top-flight season.
In the shoot-out, City keeper Claudio Bravo saved from Georginio Wijnaldum, with Gabriel Jesus driving in the winning kick after successful efforts from Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
The jubilant celebrations from City’s players and fans showed inflicting an early psychological blow on Liverpool was a moment to savour, regardless of the supposed warm-up status of the glamor friendly.
“An incredible final from both sides. We had real good moments, but in the last 15 minutes we were exhausted and they had chances to win the game,” Guardiola said.
“It was a good test for both teams. It’s nice for the players to realize what they will face this season.
“At this level the difference is nothing, just one penalty. The first title of the season is ours.”
With City installed as favorites to win the title for a third successive season and Liverpool expected to present the strongest challenge to Pep Guardiola’s side, their meeting on the eve of the season was a window into what to expect this term.
After pipping Liverpool to last season’s Premier League title with 98 points to their rivals’ 97, City went on to complete an unprecedented domestic treble by adding the FA Cup to the League Cup they won earlier in the campaign.
But Jurgen Klopp’s men didn’t dwell on that painful near-miss as they won the Champions League just weeks later.
On the evidence of this hard-fought contest, which featured both flashes of quality and signs of rustiness, there will little to separate the two teams as they go head-to-head for the major prizes once again over the next 10 months.
Retaining the Community Shield trophy they won 12 months ago would improve City’s belief that they can repeat last season’s remarkable silverware haul, but Liverpool could take encouragement as well after they finished strongly enough to have won.
The only dark cloud for City was an injury to Bayern Munich target Leroy Sane, who limped off in the 10th minute holding his right leg.
City’s victory was a well-time riposte for Guardiola, who this week hit back at Klopp’s claim that the champions live in a transfer “fantasy land.”
Guardiola gave a debut to Spain midfielder Rodri, who joined from Atletico Madrid for a club record £63 million (69 million euros) in the close-season.
And the 23-year-old’s composed passing and physical presence showed why City’s financial muscles have been flexed again.
Sterling hadn’t scored in his last 10 appearances against Liverpool in all competitions, but the England winger ended that drought in the 12th minute.
Kyle Walker’s high pass to the far post caught Liverpool appealing in vain for offside as Kevin De Bruyne headed on to David Silva.
Silva flicked toward Sterling and his close-range effort was just strong enough to escape the grasp of Reds keeper Alisson Becker and trickle over the line.
Much improved after the interval, Liverpool were inches away from equalising when Virgil van Dijk’s half-volley crashed down off the crossbar onto the goalline before City scrambled clear.
Salah was by far Liverpool’s most menacing player and he twisted away from the City defense before firing a fierce strike that cannoned off the outside of the post.
Guardiola had his head in his hands in frustration when Sterling again ran clear on goal without scoring as his hesitant stumble allowed Alisson to save at his feet.
City paid for that miss when Liverpool deservedly equalized in the 77th minute, Van Dijk helping on Jordan Henderson’s free-kick before substitute Matip headed in from close-range.
Walker’s incredible overhead-kick clearance then repelled what looked to be a late Salah winner, setting up City’s shoot-out triumph that stood as the opening salvo in what looks set to be a season-long feud.


Police want Liverpool title decider in neutral stadium

Updated 30 May 2020

Police want Liverpool title decider in neutral stadium

  • The move aims to prevent fans from gathering outside when the competition resumes

MANCHESTER, England: Liverpool might not win the English Premier League at Anfield after police included the leader’s key games among at least five it wants at neutral venues in a bid to prevent fans from gathering outside when the competition resumes.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp hopes authorities will allow them to play at home as planned, with supporters adhering to advice while they are prevented from attending games due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Police originally wanted neutral venues for all 92 remaining games but the plan was opposed by the clubs — particularly those trying to avoid relegation.
The league plans to resume on June 17 after a 100-day shutdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, pending final approval from government, which is trying to prevent a second spike in cases.
Police don’t object to the games on that Wednesday night being played at Manchester City and Aston Villa.
But police want the derby between Everton and Liverpool to be played away from Merseyside a few days later. The game was originally scheduled at Goodison Park. Liverpool, which leads by 25 points with nine games remaining, could clinch the title by beating Everton if second-placed City loses to Arsenal on June 17.
If the 30-year title drought doesn’t end that day, police want Liverpool’s next game, against Crystal Palace, to be played away from Anfield.
Greater Manchester Police have already determined Liverpool’s third game back against Manchester City should be staged away from Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool’s fourth game back is against Aston Villa, currently scheduled at Anfield.
The same Manchester force wants City’s game against Newcastle and Manchester United’s home game against Sheffield United played outside of the northwest location.
Police in Newcastle also don’t want the home game against Liverpool to be played at St. James’ Park on the final day of the season, which could be July 26.
Mark Roberts, the head of football policing in England, said the plans will remain under review but are based on public health demands.
“We have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimizing the demand on policing,” said Roberts, the football policing lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council. “The views and agreement of forces which host Premier League clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested.”
One obvious neutral venue is Wembley Stadium in north London which is not the home of any club side.
“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums,” Roberts said.
Even without a vaccine for COVID-19, fans could return to games next season, which is due to begin in September.
“There is optimism at the Premier League and at clubs that we will see fans back in the stadiums next season,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told Sky Sports TV, “and it may happen on a phased basis.”
Only 200 of the 380 Premier League games each season are contracted to be broadcast live in Britain, but all remaining fixtures will be aired live because fans will not be allowed in stadiums.
The reshaped English season is set to end with the FA Cup final on Aug. 1.
The Football Association on Friday announced its competition will provisionally resume with the quarterfinals on the weekend of June 27-28. The semifinals are now scheduled for July 18-19.
“This has been a difficult period for many people and, while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said.
Though the COVID-19 deaths per day have fallen in Britain since early April, another 377 were still reported on Thursday, bringing the known death toll in all settings including hospitals and care homes to 37,837.