Liverpool fall to Manchester City in penalties in the Community Shield after falling victim to the “game of inches” yet again.
A rusty start to the game resulted in a Raheem Sterling goal after a defensive lapse in concentration on a set-piece.
David Silva’s classy flick found the open Sterling who slotted home from close-range. The shot was straight at Alisson, who unfortunately couldn’t get a firm hand to it.
The Reds seemed to wake up in the second and were by far the better team. Joel Matip equalised in the 77th minute but a couple of goal-line clearances by City meant the game went through to penalties.
Gini Wijnaldum’s miss resulted in City being named winners of the 2019 Community Shield but there were a lot of positives to take from the game.
Getting caught out of position, ball watching and missed chances sum up the first half. Liverpool were still shaking off the rust.
A lack of discipline in organising an offside trap allowed Sterling to slot home the game’s opening goal in the 12th minute.
And it seemed the rest of the half was much of the same.
Liverpool couldn’t seem to string together more than three passes at a time bar a few pieces of brilliance from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
The two players who were away for the majority of preseason seemed the most prepared for the game. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the team.
There were a couple of chances to go ahead that weren’t capitalised on but most of that was down to some brilliance by Claudio Bravo, who should have won man-of-the-match.
Right after the second-half whistle blew for the restart, City were almost in for a second goal. However, this time it was Liverpool’s turn to take control.
They were relentless in the press, confident in front of goal and more organized as a cohesive unit.
Virgil van Dijk’s brilliant pass to Matip from a broken set-piece had the Cameroonian towering over the crowd to head home an equaliser. With only 15-minutes left in the game, the Reds continued to barrage the City goal and Salah was inches away from securing a win.
A Kyle Walker goal-line clearance separated the two teams in the end. Salah was almost through on goal and headed home a deflection off Bravo but Walker was up to the task and made a lunging effort towards his own goal.
His acrobatic effort was not in vain and he rescued his team from a disaster of a half.
Ultimately, the game went to penalties and City were clinical from the spot — scoring all five attempts.
Looking back, the Reds were a completely different side to the one fans had seen in preseason. Whether that was because of the returning influence of Firmino and Salah is yet to be seen.
One thing is for sure, the boys will press on from here. We’ll be back to our best in no time.