Ahead of their meeting at Yankee Stadium, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers had called champions Manchester City the team to beat going into the Premier League season. For much of the preseason International Champions Cup contest, that looked like an apt description. City looked a cut above Rodgers's men. Yet after twice coming from a goal down to claim a 2-2 draw at the end of regulation time, it was the Merseysiders who took the spoils, triumphing 3-1 on penalties.
Stevan Jovetić continued to revel in the competition and the chance at a full preseason after last year’s injury nightmare to score twice for the second game in succession. His second-half brace, either side of a response from Jordan Henderson, looked set to lead City to back-to-back victories, but the introduction of Raheem Sterling added extra zest to Liverpool’s performance and the young England international scored the goal of the game to send the match to penalties. The shootout was then dominated by Liverpool, with Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and finally Lucas Leiva all scoring to give them a 3-1 win.
Still, it is City who may well be more encouraged by their showing, less than a month before the two sides meet again in the Premier League. In a preview of the soccer action that will be seen on a regular basis next year as the home of the New York Yankees plays host to New York City FC, the new Major League Soccer side’s sister club put on a impressive showing for a crowd that featured significantly more red than blue.
A quick start from Liverpool had initially rattled Manuel Pellegrini’s men and a header from Rickie Lambert perhaps should have found the net rather than a glove of new City goalkeeper Willy Caballero. But it was then the champions who took control of the contest and repeatedly took advantage of the space afforded to them out wide, courtesy of Rodgers’ diamond midfield. Jesús Navas time and again got in behind Liverpool left-back José Enrique, with Edin Džeko on a couple of occasions just being unable to capitalize on the winger’s work in the middle. The link up play between Džeko and Jovetić will have been mighty encouraging for Pellegrini. And after spending much of his first season on the treatment table, Jovetić now looks fit and his movement and awareness of those around him has the potential to be as big a boost to Manchester City’s squad as any new signing.
There was no surprise that the both the former Fiorentina forward and Navas were heavily involved in the opening goal. Navas breezed past half-time substitute Jack Robinson, before his cross into the center was met by a botched clearance from Steven Gerrard, allowing Jovetić to turn past Simon Mignolet just eight minutes after the Belgian was introduced.
Against the run of play, City were pegged back just two minutes later. Henderson both started and finished the move, playing a crisp pass in midfield before continuing his run forward and taking full advantage of a loose ball on the edge of the box to place a shot with power past Joe Hart. The reintroduced parity did not last for long. Bruno Zuculini somehow found the crossbar rather than the net from close range but the 67th minute saw Jovetić get his second. Having coming deep to feed Navas down the right, Jovetić found himself in the perfect place in the box to pounce and poke past Mignolet after impressive 17-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho had a shot blocked.
A City win to follow on from their 5-1 trouncing of AC Milan at the weekend appeared in store, but instead a late stream of substitutions led to Liverpool dominating the closing stages. Sterling was the real spark for Liverpool and he demonstrated his growing emergence as a key figure for the club with a fine equalizer. The 19-year-old took a deft cushioned volley from Lucas into his path and into the box with five minutes remaining before finishing emphatically past his England teammate Hart. Missed spot kicks from Aleksandar Kolarov, Yaya Toure and Navas meant that it was Liverpool who took the two points rather than one to leave them as favorites to claim a spot in the final of the International Champions Cup heading into their last match of Group B against Milan.