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Last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year opened the scoring against Liverpool at MetLife Stadium with an expertly-taken drilled finish into the bottom corner, before Sadio Mane snatched victory with an injury-time penalty after Mo Salah had levelled moments after coming on.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Pep Guardiola’s young Blues, who produced another impressive showing in the US. Despite the result, once again there were plenty of positives to take from the clash.
GALLERY: City v Liverpool
Guardiola opted to make just one change from the pre-season opener against Borussia Dortmund, as Cameron Humphreys replaced Douglas Luiz.
Captain Claudio Bravo was shielded by a backline of Luke Bolton, Humphreys, Eric Garcia and Jason Denayer, while Zinchenko occupied the defensive midfield role behind Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden. Riyad Mahrez and Jack Harrison were employed on the wings with Lukas Nmecha leading the line upfront.
The opening 45 proved an entertaining affair with chances for both sides.
City started brightly, composed in possession and eager to drive forward, crafting well-worked one-touch moves.
The Blues spurned a chance to gain an early advantage, as Mahrez played a delightful through-ball to Nmecha on 13 minutes. The striker was denied by Loris Karius, and Fabinho did enough to put our forward off on the rebound, which was deflected wide. City wanted a penalty but referee Sorin Stoica wasn't interested.
The game burst into life on the 20-minute mark with attempts at both ends. Denayer was inches away from connecting to a dangerous cross, while Curtis Jones curled into Bravo’s arms.
Just before the half-hour, City appealed for another penalty but once again, the referee waved play on. This time, it was Bolton who was upended by Andy Robertson, having been played through neatly by the lively Diaz. The winger tried to stay on his feet but slipped and the resulting protests were ignored.
Foden was then unfortunate not to open his City account, but drilled straight at Karius – and Jones’ daisy-cutter (dangerous on this turf) suffered the same fate at the other end.
With the introduction of Sane and Bernardo Silva at half-time, plus several of Liverpool’s senior regulars, the game shifted up a gear.
Mane almost had an instant impact but was thwarted by Zinchenko and then Humphreys, who cleared the poked shot off the line, while Sane also had the chance to stamp an immediate mark on the game but swept straight at Caiomhim Kelleher after Bolton’s storming run and cross.
The German winger made amends though before the hour, collecting Bernardo Silva’s pass, sprinting clear and drilling into the far corner to put City ahead.
Bolton then had a chance to double the advantage, but skewed the wrong side of the post, before Salah netted an equaliser seconds after coming off the bench, heading past Joe Hart - despite TV replays suggesting he'd been offside .
The Egyptian striker proved a handful, almost single-handedly turning the game on its head as first Humphreys headed the striker’s second attempt off the line at the near post and moments later, the Liverpool man struck the crossbar.
City looked to have rode the storm with Liverpool’s late charge, as twice, Mane squandered the chance to snatch a late victory – but the Reds would steal the win in the fourth additional minute, as substitute Tosin Adaraobioyo clattered into Dominic Solanke in the dying embers.
This time, a penalty was awarded and Mane stepped up to convert.
Central defender Humphreys performed admirably against experienced and top quality opposition. The youngster came to City's rescue on a number of occasions with some well-anticipated clearances and interceptions and will feel unfortunate to have ended up on the losing side.
City travel to Miami for the final leg our pre-season tour, where we will face Bayern Munich on Saturday 28 July at 7:05pm EDT (midnight BST on Sunday 29 July).
"It was incredible, what we did. For 75 minutes, it was incredible with the players we have what we did against that team - the finalists of the Champions League, who have amazing players.
"I'm so proud and happy to be manager of these guys for that reason. Our personality was incredible. In the first half, we had a very young average young age.
"For the last 15 minutes, we were so tired. We made some changes and in the last few minutes, Liverpool deserved to score goals."
"Pep hates losing. I was not a bit happy about the Dortmund game.
"It is not a sign in the direction. It is only a game."
The 18-year-old French defensive midfielder was previously with Paris Saint Germain, making five appearances for the Ligue 1 champions’ Under-23 side in the UEFA Youth League.
The latest edition of our summer feature