A match that is considered friendly by most people saw a massive attendance of 77,565. The match ended in a 1-1, Raheem Sterling opened the scoring, putting City in front in the first half before it was canceled out by Joel Matip’s. The match then went to penalties which ended 5-4 favor to City. But the numbers were not as important as the eye-opening effort from two of the major contenders for crown this season.
The teams’ desire to succeed could be gauged by watching Mohammad Salah, who only returned from his postseason break on Monday and played 45 minutes against Lyon before this tougher test. He was constantly speeding around the attacking third, shrugging off markers and showing fast feet to get 10 shots away two hit the post, one was cleared off the line, this was more than what City managed in total.
Even in the 93rd minute, when the Salah looked certain to have won the match for Liverpool with a header, only for a scissor kick from Kyle Walker on the goal line to clear the ball away from danger just before it could go in. Those acrobatics at that stage of the encounter underlined City’s ruthlessness and refusal to lose a game.
The most intense element of the match didn’t even happen on the pitch, but in the technical area of the Premier League champions.
Pep Guardiola paced throughout the match in frustration, furiously pointing out spaces his side weren’t exploiting. He put his hands over his head and over his eyes in disbelief at missed chances or misplaced passes. The 48-year-old was so worked up that he even created an imaginary red-card situation when David Silva and Joe Gomez challenged for a high ball and the Liverpool defender got to it first. His continued protestations even earned him a yellow card.
Tensions eventually spilled over late in the second half, with City’s boss exchanging words with Jurgen Klopp, Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk and just about anyone else in red. At the final whistle, there were kinder exchanges marked by a wealth of respect, with both camps fully aware that another almighty battle will brew between them over the season ahead.
Cover image-Evening Standard