No Welcome Party for Balotelli at the Etihad as Manchester City beat Liverpool 3:1
Mario Balotelli had to watch from the stands as his new side battled it out with Manchester City at the Etihad. Balotelli, a one-time Etihad faithful, had earlier in the day agreed on a move from the Serie A side, Milan, that will see him spend the next few years of his footballing career at the Merseyside.
The Italian international will be returning to England for his second spell in the Barclay's premier league after having fell out favor with the Manchester outfit where he had to leave for Milan in the winter transfer windows in 2013. "Super Mario," on returning, has stated that his decision to leave England for Italy was a mistake and that he is quite delighted at the chance to play in the premier league once again, stressing that compared to Italy, football in England is better. "English football is beautiful," the 24-year old added.
The Italy front-man was unfortunately not on hand on the night to make his debut for his new team as Manchester City breezed past the team they only just tipped to the title last season.
Manchester City welcomed last season's runner-up, Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium on match day 2 of the premier league. A brace from Montenegrin Stevan Jovetic, and a strike from Sergio Aguero, just seconds after his introduction in the second half, saw the premier league holders run way with 3 points on the night, as the ended 3:1.
Liverpool had arguably the best chances of the first 45 minutes but failed to convert their chances. The deadlock was eventually broken by the hosts 4 minutes before the interval, as Jovetic pounced on the ball, after some sloppy defending from Liverpool's Alberto Moreno in the box, before blasting it between the legs of the onrushing Liverpool goalie.
The defensive frailties of the Liverpool's backline was once again exposed as Samir Nasri and Jovetic combined 10 minutes after the break to make it 2:0 in a move that saw the defending league leaders make 19 passes around the Liverpool area before the goal.
Manuel Pellegrini opted to leave Sergio Aguero on the bench on the night, starting with Edin Dzeko instead. Aguero was called upon to replace the injured Dzeko who limped off the field after a knock in the second half. Sergio Aguero scored on his first touch of the night: Receiving a delicate through ball from teammate, Jesus Navas, he breezed past Steven Gerrard before calmly slotting the ball past Mignolet.
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Liverpool grabbed a late consolation goal in the 83rd minute after substitute, Rickie Lambert, connected with a Daniel Sturridge cross, forcing City's defender, Pablo Zabaleta, to put the ball into his own net.
The Reds should have added to their scoreline moments later as Lambert's pass to Sturridge for a simple tap in box was brilliantly cleared by the Manchester City skipper, Vincent Kompany.
The game ended on a very sad note for the Reds as they watched their right back, Glen Johnson, hobble off the pitch after sustaining an injury. The Reds had to finish the match with 10-men, as they had all 3 substitutes in the field of play.
Defenders Martin Skrtel and new signing, Alberto Moreno, both got injured in the dying minutes of the game, and had to play through their injuries until the final whistle.
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Brendan Rodgers showed a lot of faith in his new signings but unfortunately none looked particularly impressive on the night. In his post-match interview, the Liverpool boss expressed concerns about his teams stating that he didn't expect them to play the way they did in the last 50 minutes of the game after the good first 40 minutes of possession they had enjoyed in the match.
Rodgers credited his players for their performance overall, and added that his team continued to play well even after conceding the 2nd goal. He, however, admitted that it was a little disappointing to have conceded the 3rd goal stressing that it was little too easy.
"We had a good reaction, got a goal and kept going. Daniel Sturridge gets a goal that was marginally offside and we still created chances."
"We still have a long, long way to go," and "it just wasn't our night," he added.
At the end of the day, Manchester City were worthy winners at the Etihad, with Manuel Pellegrini proving that his old-fashion 4-4-2 formation can shut down even the strongest teams in the league this season.
City made a statement with their victory over fellow title contenders on the night, and have now won 7-straight leagues matches. Pellegrini's team looked solid from the blast of the whistle, with strengths everywhere and at least 2 world-class players in every position.
It is not hard to see why there are high odds on them retaining the title and why any team that finishes ahead of them this campaign may end up winning the league.
Brendan Rodgers will have to wait to see if the gamble he made signing Mario Balotelli will make or mar his team's chances of competing for the premier league this season. The £16m man, notorious for his indiscretions on and off the pitch, is believed to have assured the Merseyside outfit that he will conduct himself accordingly while at the club.
It is now left to be seen whether the Italian will keep to his promises and whether or not his addition would change the complexion of a Liverpool side that is beginning to look stale upfront following the departure of their talisman, Luis Suarez.