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Man City 3 Liverpool 2: Haaland takes 10 mins to open scoring after 40-day break as Ake knocks Carabao Cup holders out

WHO needs the World Cup when you’ve got these two on our doorstep?

Some football fans might be feeling a little hungover after the end of the tournament in Qatar on Sunday.  

Erling Haaland returned to action with a goal
Fabio Carvalho equalised for Liverpool
Riyad Mahrez curled City ahead just two minutes into the second half
Mo Salah hit back immediately for the Reds
Nathan Ake headed City back in front

But trust the best sides in the country to blow the cobwebs away and provide the perfect pick me up.

Both clubs had pleaded for calm in the build up to the game after a series of problems among supporters in recent years.

That seemed to be heeded in the stands – but on the pitch it was anything but peaceful.

Five goals – including the inevitable one from Erling Haaland – a host of missed chances for both sides and plenty of needle between these two deadly rivals.

If this doesn’t get your juices flowing for the return of domestic football and what lies ahead then nothing will.

You simply couldn’t take your eyes off it right from the very first minute.

While 16 of his team-mates have been on duty at the World Cup, Haaland has been putting his feet up for a few weeks.

The Norwegian was probably counting down the days until this one and maybe he was a bit over-enthusiastic when a big moment arrived in the first minute.

He was picked out by Ilkay Gundogan and as he raced through on goal, Caoimhin Kelleher had come racing out.

Haaland lifted his effort over the advancing keeper but got it all wrong as his effort was high and wide.

While Aymeric Laporte snuffed out a chance for Darwin Nunez, the best chances were coming for the home side.

A low cross from Kevin De Bruyne picked out Cole Palmer in the middle but the England U21 ace got his feet in a muddle and bundled his effort wide.

At least the youngster was involved in the build up as City did take the lead in the tenth minute – working it out to De Bruyne on the left.

The Belgian’s teasing cross saw Haaland escape from Joe Gomez before stabbing a low shot into the corner giving Kelleher no chance.

Business as usual for the former Borussia Dortmund man – who made it 24 for the season.

But City’s lead lasted just 10 minutes as Joel Matip and James Milner created the opening for Fabio Carvalho who steered a low shot past Stefan Ortega with the minimum of fuss.

That settled the visitors down although the best chances were still falling to the champions.

Palmer’s cross looked destined for the head of Haaland but a flick from Mahrez took it just out of his reach.

Another break saw De Bruyne pull a cross back for Gundogan who was denied by the legs of Kelleher.

The Reds keeper was there again minutes later to push away a diving header from Nathan Ake after yet more great work from De Bruyne.

Former City man Milner was forced to hobble off just before the break with Nat Phillips on to replace him.

And the centre back was called straight into action with a brilliant last ditch tackle to deny Haaland another sight of goal.

Liverpool finished the half strongly as Nunez sprang the offside trap and cut in from the right but thumped his shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

And the Uruguyan had another chance when Andy Robertson’s free-kick reached him but once again he placed his volley wide of the far post.

What a half it had been but it got even better in the first four minutes of the restart.

First Mahrez – another player who should be refreshed after missing the World Cup – collected a pass from Rodri.

The Algerian drifted in from the right before curling a trademark left-footer around Kelleher.

This time though, the lead lasted less than a minute.

Sub Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent Nunez away down the left and he managed to outpace Laporte.

He picked out strike partner Mo Salah who had all the time he needed to roll home his 15th goal of the season.

It was thrilling stuff but it was by no means finished there.

A short corner routine saw De Bruyne hang up a beautiful cross from the left and all Ake had to do was get his head on it to restore City’s lead.

De Bruyne had been truly outstanding – he dressed up as Santa for a club charity event in the week and here he was dishing out presents to his team-mates left, right and centre.

What on earth went wrong in Qatar as his dismal Belgium side crashed out in the group stage?

Still City had half an hour to hold on this time and Nunez could have levelled again as he again beat the offside trap and raced clear but pulled his shot wide.

And back at the other end, sub Fabinho cleared a De Bruyne effort off the line to deny the Belgian a goal he deserved.

Kelleher then pushed away Phil Foden’s effort minutes after the England ace had come on.

The holders were clinging on but this time there was no way back.  

Kevin De Bruyne was superb for City
Haaland celebrates at full-time
Jurgen Klopp thanks the travelling Liverpool fans after the game

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