In the second round of games in the International Champions Cup, Liverpool beat their English Premier League rivals Manchester City in penalty kicks, after the game was tied 2-2 in regular time. Stevan Jovetic scored a brace for the Sky Blues, while Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling each scored for the Reds. City began the penalty shootout in poor fashion, missing their first three kicks. Liverpool also missed their first spot kick, but then finished three straight to win the game 3-1 in penalty kicks.
The win takes the Reds to the top of Group B in the International Champions Cup. They have five points, which is one ahead of Manchester City and two ahead of Olympiacos. A.C. Milan sits bottom of the group, having yet to earn a point in their two matches. The group stage of the tournament ends on August 2. Manchester City will play Olympiacos in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Liverpool will play the struggling Italians of A.C. Milan in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will be looking for a win to secure their place in the finals of the International Champions Cup.
The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 49,653 people at Yankees Stadium in New York City. The site will be home to Manchester City’s sister team New York City F.C., who will play in the MLS next year. Therefore many, including Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers, thought the game would be virtually a home game for Manchester City, but there were clearly more Liverpool fans in attendance. Rogers said, “it felt like a home game for Liverpool.”
The first half was scoreless, but there were a few decent chances for both teams. City thought they had an early lead, but Edin Dzeko was correctly ruled offside in the 26th minute. Both Bruno Zuculini, a young Argentine who recently signed with the Sky Blues, and Jesus Navas both had opportunities, but failed to convert against Liverpool’s keeper Brad Jones. The Reds had two good chances. One was when Philippe Coutinho narrowly missed a laser shot from outside the 18-yard-box. The other was a Rickie Lambert header from inside the six-yard-box that went straight at the new back-up keeper for City, Willy Caballero.
It only took eight minutes to open the scoring in the second half. Jovetic got on the end of a Navas cross that should have been easily cleared by Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool captain instead had the ball roll right between his legs as he whiffed a clearance. It was an easy finish for Jovetic. He calmly shot the ball past substitute Simon Mignolet and into the net.
The game was tied in the 59th minute, when Henderson curled a beautiful shot into the upper right hand corner of Joe Hart’s goal. The play started with Raheem Sterling feeding Daniel Sturridge, but the striker slipped and fell in the box. Fortunately for the Reds, the loose ball landed right at the feet of Henderson, who made no mistake to knot the game. Jovetic then put City back in front in the 67th minute. The young City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, had his shot blocked by Jovetic, but the man from Montenegro turned on Liverpool center back Sebastian Coates and toe-poked the ball into the far side netting. It was Jovetic’s fourth goal in two games, and although it was not the prettiest, it gave Manchester City the lead.
Liverpool continued attacking though, and in the 85th minute, Sterling tied the game and forced penalty kicks. Sturridge started the play out wide and crossed a ball to Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian touched the ball perfectly to Sterling, who was streaking into the 18-yard area. The young English International finished the play with a right-footed shot into the far corner.
Then some of Manchester City’s biggest names let the Sky Blues down in penalty kicks. Aleksandar Kolarov, Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas all missed their spot kicks. The only City player to make his penalty was the young Nigerian, Iheanacho. The three City misses to begin the shootout gave Liverpool a huge opportunity to secure victory. Daniel Sturridge missed the first penalty for Liverpool, but then Emre Can, Henderson, and Lucas were all successful from the spot to beat Manchester City in the International Champions Cup.
Some had speculated before the game that Manchester City was not concerned about getting to the finals of the tournament. They have to play Arsenal in the F.A. Community Shield on Sunday, August 10. The Community Shield is an annual match between the holders of the FA Cup and the winners of the previous Premier League season. The game also signifies that the English Premier League season is about to kickoff on the following weekend. Advancing to the finals of the International Champions Cup would only give the Sky Blues a few days to travel back to England and rest before playing in the Community Shield.
Liverpool also has to play on August 10, but not competitively. The Reds last friendly of the summer is against Borussia Dortmund from Germany at Anfield. Liverpool hope they can continue their winning streak, after beating Manchester City in penalty kicks, when they play a struggling A.C. Milan team in the final group stage match of the International Champions Cup.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash