Jovetic fires City past Liverpool as Balotelli sees old beat new
Manchester City overcome title rivals at Etihad as Jovetic finally seizes his chance
Manchester City 3 Liverpool 1. Two goals from Stevan Jovetic helped ease Manchester City to a comfortable 3-1 win over Liverpool in the first big clash of the Premier League season.
It was a ruthless display by the reigning champions, and one watched by their former striker Mario Balotelli, who on Monday was officially unveiled as Liverpool's marquee summer signing. The Italian striker, who spent two colourful seasons at the Etihad before leaving for AC Milan in January last year, has been bought by Brendan Rodgers to score the goals that Luis Suarez once did for Liverpool. But Rodgers' immediate concern will be to shore up a defence that was too easily breached by the Sky Blues.
Though Liverpool were arguably the dominant side in the first half it was a blunder by Dejan Lovren on 41 minutes that handed City the lead. His header to Alberto Moreno was pounced on by Jovetic and the Montenegrin striker coolly slotted the ball past Simon Mignolet in the visitors' goal.
Jovetic's second came ten minutes into the second half when he combined deftly with Samir Nasri to create the space that allowed him to fire home. The Liverpool defence was pierced for a third time on 69 minutes when Sergio Aguero – who had just replaced Edin Dzeko – was the recipient of a sweet pass from Jesus Navas. His emphatic finish from a tight angle killed off Liverpool's hopes and though they got a goal of their own on 83 minutes when City defender Pablo Zabaleta put the ball into his own net it was nothing more than a consolation.
"When you play against a strong team you have to concentrate and our concentration and intensity was good," said City manager Manuel Pellegrini. "Liverpool are an important team and one that will be fighting for the title. It's so important to get six points from our first two games as it was a very difficult start for us."
Asked about the form of Jovetic, who didn't start a single league game for City last season, Pellegrini replied: "Jovetic was very unlucky last season and he had so many injuries. He has been patient and worked very hard to come again. We bought him because he is a very good player, he had a good pre-season and I'm very happy for him - he deserves it."
Brendan Rodgers will be hoping Balotelli takes less time to make an impact at Anfield as the Reds look to the Italian to spearhead their title challenge. At the same time the Liverpool manager is trusting Balotelli to refrain from some of the antics that marred his spell at the Etihad. "Of course it is a risk," agreed Rodgers, when asked about the £16m signing. "I am not going to say it wasn't but he knows he needs to fit into our culture and that will hopefully help him improve as a person."
Adding that no one doubted Balotelli's football prowess, Rodgers said it was up to the club to bring out the best in the striker. "We feel we can bring him in, improve him as a player and help him mature as a young man," he explained. "He knows his flaws and faults and he's looking for someone to help him and there is no better club than Liverpool."