Latest Football News From Manchester: Man City get Julian Alvarez consolation in Liverpool FC defeat – Simon Bajkowski

Goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez were ultimately enough to decide the 2022 Community Shield despite a first goal for Julian Alvarez in City blue as everyone came away from the King Power Stadium feeling like, for all the transfer activity of both clubs over the summer, not much has changed. Yet.

Make no mistake that both teams tried extremely hard to win this game, but City will not be too disappointed about how their afternoon unfolded. As Jurgen Klopp said this week, this is a competition that matters if you win it and means less if you don't; City's 2019 win over Liverpool in this match was one of four trophies they went on to win in that year, yet nobody at the Etihad has thought again about the defeat to Leicester last season since it happened.

Also read: Man City player ratings vs Liverpool FC as De Bruyne good, Cancelo poor

The line-ups usually tell you just how competitive the club wants this friendly to be, and neither line-up would look out of place in the Premier League next week. Liverpool still had a formidable front three despite new boy Nunez being on the bench, while City started Erling Haaland where in last year's match they tried youngster Sam Edozie up front.

Both sets of fans set out their stalls early on as the two teams expected to challenge again for the title resumed their rivalry. City legend Mike Summerbee was booed as he spoke on the touchline, You'll Never Walk Alone was booed, Blue Moon was booed, the national anthem was booed – all before a ball had been kicked.

When the action did get underway, it was Liverpool that looked the stronger – perhaps understandable given the respective summers of each. Liverpool have had as many pre-season tours as City have had friendlies before this game, the Premier League runners-up travelling to the Far East before heading for a training camp in Austria while the champions have largely resided in Manchester.

Ruben Dias blocked from Luis Diaz in the third minute, Salah danced past Joao Cancelo seconds later but could only fire wide and Andy Robertson headed into the side netting shortly after. Virgil van Dijk deflected a Kevin De Bruyne shot wide between but City were not given time to settle.

The first goal was scored by a Blue but unfortunately Nathan Ake could only head the ball into his own net, unable to get more on an Alexander-Arnold effort from outside the box to ensure it flew past Ederson in off the post.

City needed to get their new No.9 in the game, and that is exactly what they did; Bernardo Silva clipped a ball towards the box and the Norwegian held off a hefty challenge from Robertson to get a shot off on goal that Adrian – possibly the only player on the pitch that definitely wouldn't make anyone's first XI – palmed away. Haaland went for the spectacular when the ball came back in when Riyad Mahrez was in a better position to attack the goal, yet the Blues took confidence from breaching the Liverpool backline and ended the half the stronger team.

They should have been ahead within a minute of the restart when Mahrez found himself in on goal eight yards out but the Algerian could not get his shot past Adrian. After that, chances were more difficult to come by against a Liverpool defence that regrouped and tightened up.

Cue the substitutions. Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez were the first to be called from the bench just shy of the hour mark and took less than 15 minutes to make their mark. Foden controlled a well-timed ball from De Bruyne and while his shot was parried by Adrian it was turned home by Alvarez.

The only negative for the young Argentine was that the celebration of his debut goal was delayed because it was initially incorrectly ruled out for offside and by the time VAR had corrected the error he was in the middle of a pep talk with the manager. His teammates still rushed over though and Alvarez was given an extra large hug from the towering Haaland.

That should have seen City press on but, to their credit, Liverpool fought back and it was their new boy Nunez whose header hit the arm of Dias; it was at close range, but the arm was up. Referee Craig Pawson did not give it initially but VAR made its second significant contribution and Salah snuck the penalty under Ederson to spark more red flares invading the pitch.

Nunez then added a third in injury time to seal a deserved win for Klopp's side after Robertson beat Walker in the air following a poor clearance from Ederson, who was unusually off with his kicking on the day. Perhaps City's title odds will lengthen slightly after this one.

City have to accept defeat to their biggest rival for prizes come May, and have to improve, but despite defeat their new little-and-large combination was one of the few fresh things to take away from a match between two teams who know each other so well. City always knew that Liverpool would provide fierce competition for them again this season and will leave Leicester with that message reinforced: finish above them and there is a good chance they will win the league.

Equally, if they can compete with a strong Liverpool team Guardiola will feel confident about preparations for the Premier League – especially knowing there is still a full week of training before their first stiff test against West Ham. As Haaland trains more with the team and gets more onto the same wavelength as De Bruyne – there were a few moments where a defence-splitting ball looked on – the rhythm will slot into this well-oiled machine.

How quickly that takes to happen could ultimately decide which of these teams are celebrating the biggest prizes at the end of the season.