Manchester - A Stevan Jovetic double and a third to Sergio Aguero helped Manchester City send out an ominous warning to those with designs on their Premier League crown, routing Liverpool 3-1 in the first heavyweight clash of the new season on Monday.
As it happened: Manchester City v Liverpool
With new signing Mario Balotelli watching from the stands, last
season's runners-up Liverpool looked lively in miserable conditions at
Etihad Stadium, but an error from debutant Alberto Moreno allowed the
Montenegro international to smash the ball home on 41 minutes.
grabbed his second 10 minutes after the restart, putting away Samir
Nasri's low cross, while Aguero scored 23 seconds after coming on as a
substitute as Manuel Pellegrini's side put down an early-season
statement of intent.
After going agonisingly close to winning
their first league title in 24 years last season, Liverpool are
desperate to mount another creditable challenge, but despite nine new
arrivals they are still looking to adjust to life without Luis Suarez.
Merseysiders failed to seriously trouble Joe Hart despite having plenty
of ball and earned a consolation through a Pablo Zabaleta own goal when
the result was already sealed.
The pre-match interest surrounded
the return of the controversial Balotelli to the Premier League after a
season and a half at AC Milan, having previous quit City after falling
out with then manager Roberto Mancini.
The 24-year-old Italian
appeared at ease in his old stomping ground, warmly greeting some of his
old team mates before taking a seat in the stand.
On the pitch
both sides looked dangerous on the break, with 19-year-old Raheem
Sterling particularly lively on Liverpool's right and giving Gael Clichy
plenty of defensive work.
Moreno, an off-season arrival from Sevilla, offered some decent balls
from out wide but was culpable for City taking the lead.
Lovren, under pressure from David Silva, was unable to get any power on a
clearing header, but Moreno was caught on his heels, allowing Jovetic
to beat him to the ball and smash it past Simon Mignolet.
Montenegro international struggled with injury in his first season in
England, but after impressing in pre-season has been given the chance to
partner Edin Dzeko in attack with Aguero still working his way back to
Daniel Sturridge, who scored the winner against
Southampton last week, had a goal correctly ruled out for offside
shortly after the restart, while Bosnian Dzeko was unable to control the
ball after being played in by Silva.
The home fans did not have
to wait much longer for a second, a scuffed effort from Jovetic finding
the back of the net after fine lead-up work between himself and Nasri,
the Frenchman finding his team mate with a low ball through the box.
made it three, having been on the pitch for 23 seconds, getting in
behind the Liverpool defence and finishing off Jesus Navas' searching
The Argentina striker has now scored in both City matches, despite playing less than 45 minutes in total.
pulled once back when Zabaleta, under pressure from Rickie Lambert, put
the ball in his own goal, but hopes of a comeback were curtailed when
Glen Johnson hobbled off, leaving the Reds to finish with 10 men and
with a early dent to their title hopes.