MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – Liverpool will not win back-to-back Carabao Cups after Manchester City sent them home on Thursday with a thrilling 3-2 victory in the Etihad City Fourth Round at the Etihad Stadium. Man City advances to the quarter-finals, where they will face Southampton, with matches scheduled to begin in the week commencing January 9.
The equalizers of Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez were canceled out by Fabio Carvalho and Mohamed Salah respectively, before Nathan Ake sealed the victory for City with a header in the 58th minute.
1. City is chasing Liverpool’s record after eliminating the defending champions from the cup competition
Manchester City could equal Liverpool’s record nine wins in the UEFA Cup this season after last season’s winners were eliminated from the competition.
With London giants Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham already out of contention, the biggest threat to winning the Carabao Cup again seems to come from Manchester United or Newcastle as the cup enters the quarter-final stage.
But whoever City must beat if they want to win the Cup at Wembley next February, coach Pep Guardiola and his men are the clear favorites to extend their control of the tournament.
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O’Hanlon: The 13 stats that explain the 2022 World Cup
City have won five of the past seven Carabao Cups, and only Liverpool last season and United, in 2017, were able to snatch the trophy from City’s clutches.
Since Guardiola took charge of City in the summer of 2016, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has led the club to nine major titles, including a domestic treble in 2018-19.
So the challenge for the remaining clubs is clear – they have to find a way to beat City.
After not playing since mid-November due to the World Cup shutdown, City’s performance against Liverpool was ominous.
They have such depth and experience, combined with Haaland’s goals, that they already look unstoppable.
And with the FA Cup just around the corner in January, how long before we start talking about City’s quadruple-chase again? It is almost guaranteed.
2. After missing the World Cup, Haaland and Salah are back in action
Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah were two of the biggest absentees from Qatar 2022, as both Norway and Egypt failed to qualify for the World Cup.
But after six weeks spent on the sidelines on the loose, both strikers are right back on goal-scoring duty in this fixture.
Haaland scored his 24th goal of the season when he evaded a Joe Gomez marker to head Kevin De Bruyne’s cross into the net in the 11th minute, but the former Borussia Dortmund striker could – and should have – scored just 25 seconds later when he attempted a daring shot from distance.
Moments later, Haaland burst into the Liverpool penalty area and tipped the ball to Cole Palmer when he could have headed home himself.
It was an impressive start for the 22-year-old, who seemed desperate to get back on the pitch after spending so much time watching the rest of the world’s best perform in Qatar.
Salah took longer to get going, but still had his name on the scoresheet early in the second half when he scored from 12 yards out after being fumbled by Darwin Nunez.
Salah is a different striker than Haaland – more elegant and silky than Haaland’s sheer power – but they are undoubtedly the two best strikers in the Premier League.
After one game back, they are already in a good position in terms of goals and it is clear that there will be more to come this season.
3. The kids are showing that the future is bright for Liverpool and Man City
The depth of the Manchester City and Liverpool squads was demonstrated by the strength of the starting teams chosen by managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
But while the mix of World Cup players and those who failed to qualify for Qatar was to be expected, it was a surprise to see both Guardiola and Klopp give opportunities to their youngsters at Al Ittihad.
City started with 18-year-old right-back Rico Lewis and 20-year-old forward Cole Palmer, while Liverpool had Stefan Bagcetic (18), Harvey Elliott (19) and Fabio Carvalho (20) in the starting line-up.
Lewis and Palmer were born within 10 miles of Etihad Airways and are testament to the city’s thriving youth policy, which works to find and nurture the best local talent.
Luis showed himself to be a tenacious and quick defender and gave Salah a difficult time in the second half, while Palmer would score at least two goals in a frantic start to the match.
Carvalho and Elliott, who signed for Liverpool from Fulham, had already shown their abilities at Anfield, and Carvalho made his mark by scoring his side’s first equalizer that night.
Spain-born Bagcetic, whose Serbian father, Sardan, played alongside Thiago Alcantara’s father, Mazinho, at Celta Vigo, was impressive in midfield before being replaced by the more experienced Fabinho at half-time.
Many top clubs use the Carabao Cup to give minutes to their promising youngsters, and the next generation of City and Liverpool took their chance in this match.
Manchester city: Stefan Ortega 6; Rico Luis 7, Manuel Akanji 6, Emeric Laporte 6, Nathan Akane 7; Rodri 5, Ilkay Gundogan 6; Riyad Mahrez 7, Kevin De Bruyne 8, Cole Palmer 6; Erling Haaland 7.
Submarines: John Stones 6, Jack Grealish 6, Phil Foden 6, Bernardo Silva 6.
Liverpool: Caoimhin Kelleher 8; James Milner 6, Joe Gomez 5, Joel Matip 6, Andy Robertson 7; Harvey Elliott 7, Stefan Bagcetic 6, Thiago Alcantara 6; Darwin Nunez 7, Mohamed Salah 7, Fabio Carvalho 7.
Submarines: Nate Phillips 7, Fabinho 6, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Jordan Henderson 6, Naby Keita 6.
The best and worst performers
Best: Kawemehen Keeler, Liverpool
And the Liverpool goalkeeper saved his team more than once in this competition, but although he was on the losing side on this occasion, the Republic of Ireland international kept his team in the match as City dominated in the first half.
Worst: Rodri, Manchester City
The Manchester City midfielder played with an extraordinary lack of discipline. He sent off Carvalho in the first half and overreacted to Fabinho’s challenge. Rodri should have been sent off with two yellow cards.
Highlights and notable moments
If there were any concerns that Erling Haaland might have cooled off during the World Cup break, he quickly put them to rest. The striker did not make the trip to Qatar because his Norwegian team did not qualify for the tournament, but it seems that the vacation brought him back.
After less than 10 minutes of playing for Manchester City, Haaland found his way to a Kevin De Bruyne cross and fired it into the net, putting Manchester City up 1-0 over Liverpool:
Right where he left!!
Erling Haaland puts City ahead ⚡ pic.twitter.com/PdMmP6JTCC
– ESPN FC (ESPNFC) December 22, 2022
It didn’t take Liverpool long to respond – less than 10 minutes, in fact.
Fabio Carvalho tapped in a cross from James Milner for a great finish:
Carvalho raises the level of Liverpool 🔥 pic.twitter.com/9Ax6m8K6ui
– ESPN+ (ESPNPlus) December 22, 2022
The second-half whistle had barely blown by the time Manchester City regained their lead. Upon the second half, Riyad Mahrez got the end of a ball from Rodri, and made it 2-1 to Man City.
Not to be outdone, Liverpool scored a minute later as Mo Salah calmly slotted home a left-footed shot, assisted by Darwin Nunez. But you didn’t think the goal-scoring would stop there, did you?
Manchester City have taken the lead so far for the third time In the 58th minute, De Bruyne’s cross found Nathan Ake’s header.
De Bruyne puts it on a plate for Nathan Ake 🎯 pic.twitter.com/4yYZOAAEXQ
– ESPN FC (ESPNFC) December 22, 2022
After the match: What the players and managers said
Manchester City defender Nathan Complete the pace of the match: “We didn’t have a lot of training [before the game due players returning from the World Cup], so it was a little tricky at the end, a little jerky there. But I think everyone fought so well, to see players who had been out for a little while come in that way, it was good.”
Certainly upon return from the World Cup: “It was the experience of playing in the World Cup, but after a few days off you have to come back, in a different environment, a different way of playing, so it’s a matter of a few things. But we went through the day well and hopefully we can continue that way.”
Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez on City’s chances now that Liverpool are out: “I don’t know who’s left. We beat Chelsea and Liverpool, who are two great teams. We’ll see, but we’ll go game by game and train for the next game in the Premier League, which is the most important thing for us at the moment.”
Key stats (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info)
Erling Haaland has scored his 24th goal in all competitions this season – the most by any player in Europe’s top five leagues this season. He has scored in three of his past four matches in all competitions.
Kevin De Bruyne, who assisted Haaland’s goal, assisted a quarter (6) of Haaland’s 24 goals this season in all competitions.
Manchester city: After a World Cup that has demanded more starters from Manchester City than any other Premier League team, the Citizens head to Leeds to take on Leeds United on Wednesday, December 28 at 3pm ET. Former Leeds boss Haaland coach Jesse Marsh joked that the Manchester City forward would have to miss the game if he wanted to. He probably wouldn’t mind if Haaland took the request seriously, though – Man City are second on the table and Leeds are 15th.
Liverpool: The Reds are back in Premier League action after Christmas, traveling to take on Aston Villa on Monday, December 26th, at 2:30pm ET. Villa are 12th in the Premier League table while Liverpool are sixth.