Monday, August 23, 2010

Man City 3 - 0 Liverpool

Manchester City celebrated owner Sheikh Mansour's first visit to Eastlands by delivering an impressive performance to cruise to victory against Liverpool.
Sheikh Mansour has changed the face of Manchester City since his takeover two years ago - and this latest expensively reconstructed version of Roberto Mancini's squad provided evidence that they may be able to meet the expectations that will accompany his huge financial outlay.
After a £130m summer spending spree, City needed to deliver a swift statement of intent and they duly obliged against a Liverpool team showing the extent of the work required by new boss Roy Hodgson.
James Milner marked his debut by setting up Gareth Barry for an early goal, and Carlos Tevez gave City breathing space from close range just after half-time, although Micah Richards may claim his colleague did not actually apply the crucial touch from his header.
Liverpool's reaction was a shot from captain Steven Gerrard that struck the post, with City keeper Joe Hart saving superbly from David Ngog and Fernando Torres in the resulting scramble.
And City wrapped up a convincing win when Tevez scored from the penalty spot after Martin Skrtel hauled down the outstanding Adam Johnson.
Mancini will understandably keep the lid on expectations, but the way in which City mastered and out-muscled Liverpool in all areas, even with David Silva and Emmanuel Adebayor on the bench and Mario Balotelli out injured, will give him huge cause for optimism - and will have delighted the watching Abu Dhabi powerbrokers.
Sheikh Mansour received a predictably ecstatic reception from City's fans as they expressed their gratitude for his lavish refurbishment of the club's playing resources since his takeover.
And he was able to watch two of his most recent investments combine impressively as City took a well-merited lead through Barry after 13 minutes.
Yaya Toure made light of his giant frame with some fancy footwork to start a move that ended with Milner sliding a cross into the path of his former Aston Villa team-mate Barry, who passed the ball into the bottom corner out of the reach of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.
Johnson was a constant threat on City's right flank, giving Daniel Agger a torrid time under the watchful eye of England coach Fabio Capello's right-hand man Franco Baldini. He fired narrowly off target early on and pulled another effort just wide as the interval approached.
Liverpool, with Torres clearly working his way back towards full fitness, threatened only rarely, with Hart saving comfortably from Ngog and Gerrard demonstrating an uncharacteristic lack of accuracy when presented with two good shooting opportunities.
Boss Hodgson will no doubt have demanded greater urgency from his team after the break - but their hopes of a revival were effectively snuffed out as City doubled their advantage seven minutes after the restart.
Richards headed Johnson's header towards goal, and even though Tevez wheeled away in celebration after appearing to get the final touch past Reina, it looked as if he was more of a crucial distraction than the actual goalscorer.
Hart's elevation to City's number one keeper ahead of Shay Given has been a source of debate, but he demonstrated why he is rated so highly by Mancini as Liverpool attempted to mount a swift response.
Gerrard rattled the post from 20 yards, and as Liverpool tried to take advantage of confusion in the City penalty area Hart saved magnificently from Ngog and Torres in quick succession.
And the value of those saves was underlined as City swept forward to add a third from the spot after 67 minutes. Skrtel's rash challenge felled Johnson and Tevez completed the formalities from the spot.
Liverpool striker Torres, a summer target for City, was replaced to the ironic jeers of Eastlands with 15 minutes left - and City were able to see out time in comfort to record their first Premier League win of the season.

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