FA Premier League
Sunday 26 August 2012, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), K Toure, Kolarov, Milner (Silva 76), de Jong, Y Toure, Nasri (Rodwell 60), Balotelli (Dzeko 62), Tevez
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Savic, Razak
Goals: Y Toure (63), Tevez (80)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta
The opening action of the game saw both sides scrapping for possession. Gerrard had the first two efforts at goal, but both were skewed well wide. Liverpool were dealt a very early blow, as they lost Lucas to injury after just four minutes. Kolarov had City’s opening effort, direct from a free-kick from 30 yards, but it was straight at Reina.
With 17 minutes on the clock, the home side should have gone ahead. Borini beat Kolarov to a cross in the box and tried to touch it past Hart at the near post. The goalkeeper was beaten, but the effort was off target. It would have come against the early pressure. Down the other end, Tevez managed to steal in before Reina and got the ball across the face of goal. It bounced off the inside of the post and back across the line to the goalkeeper.
Balotelli did well to steal the ball from Coates on the edge of the Liverpool box with some hard work to close him down, before he was brought down on the corner of the area. Nasri stepped up to whip the free kick at the back post; Reina came for it, missed, but so did Tevez behind him and it drifted behind.
Just after the half hour, Liverpool were almost in front after a Gerrard cross from deep was met by Kompany on the stretch. He could only get a toe to it, but fortunately for City it flashed over the crossbar and behind for a corner. But, from that corner, Gerrard found Skrtel’s run and he powered a header past Hart. City hadn’t made the most of their time on top of the game and Liverpool had.
City were struggling to settle early in the second half. Kolo Toure was lucky not to give away a free kick on Sterling, before he passed it straight out of play. Zabaleta was sold short in the middle and couldn’t recover, but the ball through to Suarez in the area from Borini was too far ahead of him and his poked shot dribbled wide of the target.
Balotelli was then in Kompany’s way as he came back to help ease the pressure on the back three; the Belgian tried to clear it but it hit the heels of the Italian and bounced to Suarez. His cross, though, was flicked away by Kolo Toure. City couldn’t get a foothold in the game at all and Rodwell was introduced to try and get the away side more of the ball.
The changes helped the visitors: Tevez was found by Milner on the right hand side and he crossed into the centre. Reina came and missed the cross, leaving it to bounce off Kelly’s shins and fall to Yaya Toure. He spun and fired the ball over the line, with the goal unguarded. It was against the run of play, but City were level.
Immediately, though, City were back behind. Rodwell was unlucky to concede a free kick 25 yards from goal, as he blocked a shot from Gerrard on the slide; he made the block with his foot, but it ricocheted up to his arm. Suarez took the kick and Hart was beaten to the bottom corner. It was harsh on City, who had questions about the decision.
With ten minutes of the game remaining, Martin Skrtel handed Carlos Tevez the chance to equalise. He passed it back to Reina blindly and the City centre-forward intercepted it en route. He kept his cool, took it around the goalkeeper and slotted it into the back of the net. Again against the run of play, but the blues weren’t complaining.
Liverpool looked to reply instantly again. Sterling held the ball up on the edge of the box and found Gerrard square. He knocked it down for Shelvy to shoot and his effort, from 25 yards, was just over the bar. It had Hart worried. Dzeko looked to get the visitors ahead, but his left footed shot was dragged wide.
With five minutes to play, City should have been in front. Kolarov drove a low cross into the feet of Dzeko after he was put through by Tevez. The Bosnian, though, could only steer the effort over the bar from inside the six-yard box. At the other end, Carroll was causing City problems, as Rodwell needed to rise to get his header off the line from a corner.
Get out of jail free card played by City.