Man City 3-2 Liverpool: Four things learned as Haaland back with bang in Nunez horror show | Football | Sport


Manchester City and Liverpool concluded the midweek fixtures in the return of club football with a bang on Thursday, playing out a five-goal thriller in the Carabao Cup last 16. Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland were on song as Man City dumped the holders out in a Christmas cracker at the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland opened the scoring by latching onto a pinpoint De Bruyne cross before Fabio Carvalho slotted home to level the score before half-time. Riyad Mahrez fired the hosts back ahead minutes after the restart before Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah combined brilliantly to instantly equalise again from kick-off.

But there was no response to Nathan Ake’s headed winner on the hour mark, provided by another awe-inspiring De Bruyne delivery. Express Sport runs through four things learned as Man City progressed into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals yet again.

Haaland? Rusty? Ha

The 22-year-old made his highly-anticipated return to action after a month-long break due to Norway’s absence at the 2022 World Cup. It took him just 10 minutes to score his 24th goal in his 19th Man City appearance, reminding everyone who indulged in the action in Qatar of his prowess.

Haaland has all the makings of standing aside Kylian Mbappe as the world’s two leading forces for the next decade. And even though the Frenchman will likely dominate individual awards due to his country’s superiority, City’s relentless trophy sweep will keep up while he’s at the club.

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Salah stings, Nunez sulks

Salah continued his trend of scoring against Man City and now hasn’t scored more goals against any other side than the 10 in 18 games he’s netted against the Citizens. The Egyptian winger, like Haaland, will have been chomping at the bit for the World Cup to end and has scored against City in the Community Shield, Premier League and Carabao Cup this season alone.

Despite setting up Salah, it was a familiar story of frustration for Nunez. He endured a horror show in front of goal and could’ve, and maybe should’ve, scored a hat-trick. The Uruguayan missed two glaring opportunities, and squandered another chance that he would’ve been disappointed not to slot away.

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De Bruyne pushes World Cup woe aside

De Bruyne cut a depressed figure in Qatar as Belgium failed to live up to expectations and suffered group-stage elimination. But he was back to his best in club colours, producing two spectacular assists to inspire City to victory.

He has now registered 14 assists in 20 appearances this term and will hope to continue in the same ilk when the Premier League returns next week. If City are to beat Arsenal to the title, he will be a significant factor. Again.

Man City’s Carabao Cup to lose

With Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur already out of the way, there is a growing sense that it’s Man City’s Carabao Cup to lose. Newcastle United and Manchester United pose as the most daunting balls in the pot ahead of the quarter-final draw.

Good teams, sure. But teams they will be confident of beating. Charlton Athletic, Leicester City, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Wolves join that trio in the draw, due to take place shortly after full-time at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola’s side have taken an almighty step toward the season’s first silverware.

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