Darwin Nunez scored one and effectively set up another to help Liverpool win the Community Shield for the first time under Jurgen Klopp.
Nunez only came off the bench in the second half but had a big hand in two goals as the Reds beat Manchester City 3-1 at the King Power. He got the better of new City players Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland, though the former did manage to get a goal of his own.
Klopp kept Nunez waiting for his Liverpool debut, instead going with Roberto Firmino at centre-forward. Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, put Haaland straight in, setting up an intriguing tussle with Liverpool centre-backs Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk.
Liverpool flew out of the blocks and had a good chance in the third minute through star man Mo Salah. Fabinho found Salah out wide, and the Egyptian breezed past Joao Cancelo before firing at goal. However, he could only hit the side netting.
Liverpool’s good start continued and they had a chance through left-back Andy Robertson in the 13th minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold picked him out at the back post, although his header went wide of the target.
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson was called into action five minutes later, tipping a Jordan Henderson cross away from Luis Diaz. But the shot-stopper could do nothing about Alexander-Arnold’s opener, which came soon afterwards.
Salah played it into Alexander-Arnold’s path and the Englishman hit a first-time strike. It hit the post and went in – following a deflection off Nathan Ake – leaving Ederson stranded.
A poor clearance from stand-in Liverpool keeper Adrian put City on the front foot in the 25th minute. This allowed Kevin de Bruyne to get into a dangerous area, though his shot was tame.
The final significant chances of the half fell to Haaland – his first opportunities in a City shirt. The Norwegian shrugged off Robertson before forcing a decent save from Adrian. Bernardo Silva then picked Haaland out with a cross, but he snatched at it and couldn’t hit the target.
Liverpool went into the break 1-0 up. Mahrez could have changed that in the second half, as he chested down a cross into the box and went to shoot on his left foot. But City’s top scorer last season couldn’t get any power behind it and this allowed Adrian to save.
Both teams made changes shortly before the hour mark. Guardiola brought off Mahrez and Jack Grealish, bringing on Phil Foden and debutant Alvarez in their place.
Nunez also got his debut, replacing Firmino. And the Uruguayan’s first chance came within five minutes.
He won the ball back for Liverpool in a dangerous position and was then sent through on goal by Henderson. Nunez attempted to chip Ederson but was thwarted by the keeper, who rushed out and blocked bravely.
Julian Alvarez pegs Liverpool back
Despite Nunez’s best efforts, it was Alvarez who made his mark on the match first by scoring City’s equaliser in the 70th minute. De Bruyne found Foden at the back post and he forced Adrian into a save. The Liverpool man couldn’t get the rebound though and Alvarez poked over the line from just a couple of yards out.
Once again, Klopp and Guardiola made changes. James Milner and Harvey Elliott came on for the Reds, replacing Alexander-Arnold and Henderson, while De Bruyne was taken off for Ilkay Gundogan.
Nunez responded to Alvarez’s goal by winning Liverpool a crucial penalty in the final 10 minutes. The record signing linked up well with Salah and then received a cross from his team-mate, allowing him to head at goal. Nunez’s effort hit Ruben Dias’ hand, and the referee then gave a penalty after a VAR review.
Salah stepped up and beat Ederson by firing into the bottom corner. The keeper went the right away and got contact on it, but Salah’s power proved too much.
After playing a big part in Liverpool’s second goal, Nunez opened his account for the club in stoppage time. Robertson headed down a Salah cross into Nunez’s path, and he dived in to head the ball past Ederson. This sparked wild celebrations among the Liverpool faithful, with chants of ‘Nunez’ ringing around the ground.
Haaland had a great opportunity to score for City in the final minute of injury time. But he somehow managed to send his strike onto the crossbar and over from just a few yards out.