Liverpool were beaten 5-4 on penalties in the Community Shield after a keenly contested 1-1 draw with Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.
In what ended up closely resembling the race for last season’s Premier League title, Manchester City pipped Liverpool by the slimmest of margins. The Premier League champions and FA Cup holders were the early pace-setters, coming close through Leroy Sane in the fourth minute.
The German attacker though, had to be taken off soon after due to a knee injury, although City still struck the first blow, as Raheem Sterling scored from point-blank range. Thereafter, chances came few and far between, with Pep Guardiola’s men taking the slender advantage into half-time.
Post the break, however, Liverpool picked up pace, but were twice denied by the woodwork, with Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah coming close to pulling the score back to level terms. Manchester City though, should have doubled their advantage, if not for a moment of indecision by Sterling.
That moment would go on to cost City to some extent, with Liverpool finally equalising in the 77th minute, courtesy Joel Matip, who scored from a close range header. The Reds though, were whiskers away from winning the game, only to be denied by a spectacular goal-line clearance by Kyle Walker.
The game eventually went to a penalty shootout and with Claudio Bravo saving Georginio Wijnaldum’s effort, City got an advantage, which was well taken when Gabriel Jesus netted his spot-kick to win the game for his side. With Liverpool narrowly losing out on the Community Shield, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Not to blame for the goal that Manchester City scored, with Raheem Sterling converting from close range. But, Alisson did disappoint at times on Sunday, having shown signs of rustiness with his distribution in parts of the game. Otherwise, he was largely solid and will hope to regain sharpness going forward.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5/10
Had Leroy Sane to mark early on, but after the German hobbled off, he had Sterling to deal with. And, the trickery of the Manchester City goalscorer surprisingly left Alexander-Arnold huffing and puffing. But, while he was far from his best defensively, the Englishman posed a threat when on the ball, playing some dangerous balls in the final third.
Joe Gomez: 8/10
Following a frustrating season that was hampered by injuries, Gomez will be eager to remain fit this time around. And, he started his bid for a strong campaign with a solid showing on Sunday. Apart from a sloppy moment early on, the English defender held his own and even did a fine job after shifting to the right-back role for the final 25 minutes.
Virgil van Dijk: 6.5/10
By his lofty standards, van Dijk was nowhere near his best, looking tentative at times. His stunning record of not being dribbled past for 65 games also came to an end, with Gabriel Jesus being the player to do so. But, the Dutchman gets bumped with a rating point due to his role in the equaliser, as he supplied the dinked pass that led to Matip scoring, essentially setting up the shootout.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Two of the defensive mainstays of last season might not have had their best days defensively, but that does not hold true for Andrew Robertson. The left-back was in fine form, even as he continues to build his sharpness, making a game-high seven tackles. On the other end of the pitch, he looked in good touch, supplying some spectacular balls into the Manchester City box.
Jordan Henderson: 5/10
The Liverpool captain still looks a bit off pace and looked a bit out of sorts in the first half. Did improve in the second half, pressing relentlessly to help the Reds dominate the proceedings. But, on the ball, he needs to improve with his application, something he will look to address ahead of the Premier League opener on Friday.
The best of the lot in a rather shaky Liverpool midfield, although that does not say much. Interestingly, the Brazilian international made no tackles or interceptions all game long, a curious figure for a player in his position. Tidy on the ball for the most part.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 5/10
Wijnaldum too, was not quite at his best on the night, although he did look sharp in his movement at times. Was a willing contributor off the ball and projected impressive work-rate. But, he gets docked a rating point for his tame penalty that eventually played a part in the shootout defeat.
Mohamed Salah: 8/10
Quite easily, the best and the most threatening player for Liverpool on the day. Salah was everywhere, when the Reds looked to create their moves. Took as many as 10 shots, but it wasn’t to be his day, as Claudio Bravo and a breathtaking clearance by Kyle Walker denied him a well-deserved strike. Did score his penalty.
Roberto Firmino: 7/10
Like Salah, Firmino has been short on minutes during the pre-season due to involvement in a summer tournament. But, much like the Liverpool talisman, Firmino was showing no ill effects of the same, making some dangerous movements that had the Manchester City defenders second guessing themselves at times. Link-up play strong as ever. Should start on Friday.
Divock Origi: 6/10
With Sadio Mane still unavailable, this was Origi’s chance to lay down the marker and stake claim for a considerable role in the season to come. But, the Belgian forward, rewarded with a renewal for his heroics last term, was not quite as effective an outlet that he can be. Clearly more effective through the middle than out left.
Joel Matip: 8/10
On for Alexander-Arnold, Matip made the most important contribution of the match for Liverpool, popping in with the important equaliser. Looked solid defensively.
Naby Keita: 6/10
Apart from a late effort, there was nothing to talk about Keita’s performance, with the Guinean being rather subdued.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 6/10
On for the final 11 minutes, Shaqiri managed to disappoint in his cameo. Converted his penalty, however.
Adam Lallana: 6/10
Barely had any time make an impact in his short stint on the pitch. Like Shaqiri, he scored from the spot as well.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
As Shaqiri and Lallana did, Oxlade-Chamberlain fulfilled his duty in the shootout, having had no time to influence the proceedings.