Tevez double sinks Liverpool at City of Manchester Stadium
Manchester City highlighted their title credentials with a dominant victory over Liverpool as a Carlos Tevez brace and a Gareth Barry strike led them to their first win of the new campaign.
A lacklustre Liverpool failed to compete with their dominant hosts who controlled the game in front of their on-watching owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In particular Adam Johnson and new signing James Milner sparkled in the wide areas of the pitch.
The pair combined to unlock Liverpool’s defence within 13 minutes. An intelligent ball by Johnson was smartly collected by Milner who turned past makeshift left-back Daniel Agger and promptly squared to Gareth Barry, who stroked his effort past Pepe Reina.
Indeed, the midfield was the key battleground at Eastlands and the packed quintet of Nigel De Jong, Barry, Yaya Toure, Milner and Johnson over-swarmed a lightweight Liverpool team.
Roy Hodgson dropped want-away Argentine Javier Mascherano with Lucas selected as his replacement while Steven Gerrard continued in central midfield as opposed to supporting Fernando Torres up front. It was an attacking line-up but Hodgson’s decision failed to pay dividends.
City had escaped with a point at White Hart Lane on the opening day courteusy of heroic defending led by the immaculate Joe Hart. And the England international was in splendid form once more as he denied Torres and N’Gog with a string of smart saves.
The visitors rallied early in the second half but their improved display was soon brought to a halt as City extended their lead. Micah Richards rose highest from a right-wing corner and headed past Reina - the Spanish keeper distracted by the presence of Tevez.
Gerrard attempted to propel his team towards an unlikely comeback and forced Hart into a full-stretch save with N’Gog and Torres both spurning subsequent chances from the rebound. However the match was over as a contest with 23 minutes remaining.
Martin Skrtel’s rash challenge on Johnson saw referee Phil O’Dowd award a penalty which Tevez emphatically swept past Reina.
City boss Roberto Mancini was understandably delighted with his side’s display.
“I thought we played well,” he said. “We need time to gel and improve because we were missing four or five important players.
“But the team played with a good mentality. If they play with a good mentality I think we can beat every team. We beat a strong team like Liverpool, who can fight for the title.”
“This win helped us believe in ourselves and this is important.”
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