Liverpool had to be very, very good to beat City.
But all the signs on the pitch pointed to just the opposite- Fernando Torres except for a moment of genius was slow and drab. David Ngog and Milan Jovanovic were physically manhandled off the ball at all times by Micah Richards, Yaya Toure, and Nigel De Jong. To cap it all, Javier Mascherano was not in the starting XI because rumours are that he refused to play – his heart is now in Barca.
One had to just a cast eye at the City bench to get an overwhelming sense of the talent at Roberto Mancini’s disposal – new signing Mario Balotelli looking on, Emmanuel Adebayor, Shay Given, and David Silva on the bench. Jerome Boateng, Aleksandr Kolarov, and Wayne Bridge with injuries. Shaun Wright Phillips, Roque Santa Cruz, and Patrick Vieira? Where do they go?
However the three best players were a pair of old Premiership hands in captain Carlos Tevez, former Villa winger James Milner, and Middlesbrough’s football academy alumni Adam Johnson. City were able to go expand and collapse their game at will – going outside to the hardworking Milner and the slippery Johnson.
In the center, Tevez was a mercurial presence – keeping stingy possession off the ball, constantly changing direction, looking ahead to pass.
Johnson made the first goal happen with a clever pass between Jovanovic and Agger to find the arriving Milner who overran Steven Gerrard. The former Villa man cut back to find the other former Villa man Barry who found the net with a neatly placed left footer. (see above video) The first half ended with City on the one goal lead but with all the highlights.
City made it 2- 0 in the second half when Micah Richards headed the ball off a corner and Tevez was able get the faintest whisper of contact to claim the goal. (video)
That woke up Liverpool and in one of the few sustained periods of pressure Joe Hart again showed why he is England’s no 1 keeper falling down to save David Ngog’s shot and then recovering rapidly to block Torres piledriver off the rebound. Moments earlier, Gerrard had his shot saved by the upright.
Meanwhile Adam Johnson continued to wreak havoc down the right with Martin Skrtel his victim this time as the Slovakian central defender brought him down in the box. Matthew Dowd pointed to the spot but spared Skrtel. Tevez was at hand to score his second goal. 3-0. (video)
City looked sharp on the ball and what appeared different in their display as opposed to Spurs was that every player played their position -it gave a balanced look to each area/ facet of the game. The owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan was at hand to see his team and the young monarch exulted after every goal.