Liverpool hardly eased themselves back into action with a frenetic 3-2 defeat to Man City, exiting the Carabao Cup at the fourth-round stage.
Man City 3-2 Liverpool
Carabao Cup 4th Round, Etihad
December 22, 2022
Carvalho 19′ (assist – Milner)
Salah 48′ (assist – Nunez)
After five-and-a-half weeks away, the two biggest sides in England faced off in the cup, and within the first minute, Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez traded chances at either end.
Nunez struck the post from an offside position as Liverpool toiled for an opening, which came through the marauding Joel Matip, whose line-breaking run allowed James Milner to tee up Fabio Carvalho for 1-1.
Liverpool grew in confidence after drawing level, but De Bruyne remained an obvious threat, the midfielder laid on chances for Ilkay Gundogan and Nathan Ake only for Kelleher to make two strong saves.
HT: Man City 1-1 Liverpool
They had barely stepped foot on the pitch when Man City regained the lead, with Riyad Mahrez curling home a brilliant goal, and seconds later the scores were level again as Nunez set Mohamed Salah up for an improvised finish.
It was 3-2 to City before the hour, though, with another stunning delivery from De Bruyne allowing Ake to head in and atone for his earlier effort.
Nunez showed clear signs of ring rust as he shanked opportunity after opportunity wide, one that saw him bear down on Stefan Ortega with almost too much time to think about it, wasting a big chance to equalise.
For Liverpool, focus now turns to Aston Villa, with a trip to the Midlands to come on Boxing Day.
TIA Man of the Match: Joel Matip
Referee: David Coote
Man City: Ortega; Lewis, Akanji (Stones 60′), Laporte, Ake; Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Gundogan (Bernardo 88′); Mahrez, Palmer (Grealish 73′), Haaland (Foden 73′)
Subs not used: Carson, Walker, Cancelo, Gomez, Robertson
Subs not used: Adrian, Tsimikas, Ramsay, Doak