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Manchester City 1, Liverpool 2: Life’s A Pitch

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Mo Salah and Sadio Mané both score on their return to the team to earn Liverpool a win in the first game of the International Champions Cup.

Manchester City v Liverpool - International Champions Cup 2018 Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Manchester City 1 - 2 Liverpool

Manchester City: Sané 56’
Liverpool: Salah 62’, Mané 90+4’(pen)

Welcome back, Mo and Sadio. Salah and Mané made an instant impacts on an otherwise dull pre-season game, both scoring in the second half to give Liverpool a victory over Pep Guardiola’s men. Disappointing World Cups didn’t seem to have affected their mentality any, which should be enough to send Liverpool fans’ hearts a-fluttering.

Aside from Salah’s and Mané’s first appearances this season, the story of this game was the shoddy condition of the pitch. The match took place at the Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets football teams. The pitch was woeful, bordering on dangerous, with huge chunks of turf pulled out. The culprit was said to be Taylor Swift, who played three nights of shows on that field before Wednesday night’s game. Yankee Stadium was unavailable, while Red Bull Arena is a no-go for Manchester City, whose owners also own NY Red Bulls rivals NYCFC.

The first half featured a very young Manchester City team. For Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge and Fabinho featured, along with young Scouser Curtis Jones. Fabinho continues to impress in the midfield.

Manchester City came out on the front foot looking the better team for the first 15 minutes of the game. It took a save by Karius and then a good late challenge by Fabinho to deny City through Nmecha. Slowly, though, the Reds worked themselves into the game, thanks in large part to Curtis Jones, who was doing a tremendous amount of work, both on and off the ball. He got close to scoring, getting one shot on target, one over the bar, and crucially he was denied a pretty clear penalty by the subpar referee at the end of the first half.

The halftime whistle blew with it all tied at 0-0, but the second half got more interesting with the introduction of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah, and for Manchester City, Leroy Sané. The injection of class was immediately evident, with the Reds coming out firing thanks to a rampant Mané and diligent Dominic Solanke. It was Solanke who scored first, but the goal was ruled offside by the referee. The resulting goal kick found Sané racing past Virgil van Dijk and scoring at the other end against Liverpool’s young goalkeeper, Kelleher.

Manchester City were not destined to hold the lead for long, because moments later, Mohamed Salah made his season debut to rapturous applause from the Liverpool faithful in the crowd. And wouldn’t you know it, moments after he stepped onto the mangy pitch, Salah scored a header on a ball from Rafa Camacho. The goal was offside, but it stood and it’s pre-season, so who cares, and Liverpool evened the score.

From then on, it was the Salah and Mané show as the two attackers dazzled, bewitched, and befuddled the City defense, both coming close to scoring over and over again in the final 25 minutes. However, it wasn’t until very late into stoppage time that the Reds got their break. Solanke was mowed down in the box, leading to a penalty that Mané coolly converted to win Liverpool the game.

That’s three points for the Reds in the International Champions Cup. Their next game is on Saturday in Detroit where they’re set to take on that other, less interesting team from Manchester.