Liverpool overcome Man City in New York pre-season run-out
Little separates the Premier League teams as they meet in International Champions Cup
Manchester City 2 Liverpool 2 (Liverpool win 3-1 on penalties). Liverpool beat Manchester City on penalties in their pre-season clash in New York on Wednesday, but Sky Blues boss Manuel Pellegrini said he was satisfied all the same. "I'm very happy with the performance of the team, it was a very good game, a very useful game and played at a good pace," explained the Chilean afterwards. "In the second half we continued playing very well, Joe Hart made some very good saves and we missed some chances especially when we were 2-1, but the penalties, that happens, one team must win."
The teams were competing in something called the International Champions Cup, featuring eight European clubs only three of whom (City, Olympiacos and Real Madrid) are actually champions. Previous editions have included American MLS teams, but the 2014 edition has done away with that and acknowledged that the event exists purely as lucrative pre-season run out for European sides.
Nonetheless, it was a thrilling game for the 49,653-strong Yankee Stadium crowd with the early chances falling for City's Stevan Jovetic though the Montenegro striker was off target initially. At the other end Liverpool's new signing, Rickie Lambert, had a glorious opportunity to give the Reds the lead but his header was straight at City keeper Willy Caballero. It was all square at half-time but Jovetic made the breakthrough in the second half when he pounced on an error from Steven Gerrard, who let the ball squirm through his legs, to fire home.
City's lead was short-lived, however, with Jordan Henderson curling in an equaliser. Back came City with Jovetic firing home to restore City's lead. But the final word of regular time went to Liverpool and England striker Raheem Sterling who beat Joe Hart, on as a second half substitute. Sterling then thought he'd snatched victory for his side at the death but his goal was deemed offside on what looked the tightest of calls.
The penalty shootout that followed wasn't a classic with Aleksandar Kolarov, Daniel Sturridge and Yaya Toure missing the first three spot-kicks. Ultimately it was Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who proved the hero, saving not just Toure's attempt but also that of Jesus Navas as the Reds triumphed 3-1 in the shootout.
The victory means Liverpool now top their International Champions Cup group B by one point and, depending on how other results pan out, they could face Manchester United – currently topping Group A - in the final on Monday in Miami. "It was a great game for us," said Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers. "What has been the trademark of this team over the past 18 months has been the character. We showed it again tonight to keep going and get ourselves back in the game."