LEICESTER, England (AP) — Darwin Nunez shaded Erling Haaland in their opener by scoring Liverpool’s final goal as they beat Manchester City 3-1 in the Community Shield on Saturday.
Last season’s English Premier League champions City and FA and League Cup winners Liverpool paraded their big summer signings at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, but it was the Uruguay international who eclipsed Haaland of City.
Nunez came off the bench in the 59th minute with the score at 1-1 and his aerial presence won the late penalty from which Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead for the second time.
But the former Benfica striker, who was previously denied by City goalkeeper Ederson, wasn’t done there and bent down to head home his first for the Reds in domestic competition in time additional.
A new City signing made his mark – former River Plate striker Julian Alvarez coming off the bench to cancel out Trent Alexander-Arnold’s opener – but the focus was really on the big men up top.
The season’s traditional curtain-raiser went as planned with England’s top sides getting back to it once more, but it was the nuance of what the new signings could bring that drew intrigue .
Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 appearances for Borussia Dortmund before his summer move and he’ll likely add many more for City once he and they adjust to each other.
The Norway international had the fewest touches of any player in the first half – eight – and the serve he received throughout was rare. But he was always a threat, and his last chance in stoppage time was his worst shot when he exploded against the crossbar when facing an open goal from six yards out.
“He fought a lot and made the moves,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “It’s good for him to see the reality of a new country and a new league. He was there (with chances) but today he didn’t score and another day he will score. He will help us.
Nunez, however, justified manager Jurgen Klopp’s decision to continue his integration from the bench. He scored four second-half goals in a pre-season friendly against Leipzig, but that wasn’t enough to persuade Klopp to start him.
But when he was introduced he was a bundle of energy and, unlike City with Haaland, Liverpool seemed better equipped to complement his talents.
With virtually his first touch he was knocked down by Ederson, who was spared an offside flag, then the City goalkeeper rushed in to block Nunez’s shot with his chest after Jordan Henderson played it.
Nunez is more of a traditional No.9 and less of the multi-functional player Klopp usually prefers, but that can work to his advantage and when he went all the way up to head down the ball hit Ruben Dias’ arm .
Referee Craig Pawson dismissed the handball claims, but after being advised to consult the pitch monitor he awarded a penalty and Salah swept past Ederson.
But Nunez wasn’t done there, and in injury time, his poaching instincts saw him stoop to topple Robertson.
“He won the penalty, scored a goal and looked very sharp,” said Alexander-Arnold. “He was bought to score goals and he proved he can do that today. He’s a young player who is keen to learn. He bonded well with the guys. He came with a point to prove.
It was a thrilling end to a game that sank and ebbed, with Alexander-Arnold giving Liverpool the lead in the 21st minute from an inviting pass from Salah.
City improved in the second half and Alvarez, introduced at the same time as Nunez, equalized in the 70th after third-choice keeper Adrian saved Phil Foden’s initial effort but missed the rebound. Alvarez followed in the elated footsteps of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez as the third Argentine to score in the Community Shield.
However, he will still play second fiddle to Haaland as Nunez has begun the process of establishing himself as Liverpool’s long-term option and ensuring Sadio Mane’s summer sale to Bayern Munich quickly becomes an afterthought. .
“Every sub has made a difference,” Klopp said. “The boys are ready and that’s good.”
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Suggest a fix