Claudio Bravo was the hero, denying Georginio Wijnaldum to give City a 5-4 shootout win which ensured our 125th anniversary season began with a victory that gave Pep Guardiola the seventh trophy of his tenure.
Raheem Sterling had given City an early lead in a high-tempo game in which attacking play thrived and the intensity of the competition reflected 2018/19’s battle for supremacy.
Both sides created a host of chances and Joel Matip’s header levelled the scores and sent the game to penalties where all City's takers held their nerve.
Both teams returned to action as they performed last season, at full throttle.
Leroy Sane had fired wide and Roberto Firmino straight at Bravo inside five minutes.
Then the unmarked Mohamed Salah dragged wide from six-yards and it proved costly as Sterling profited from a well worked free-kick, prodding home a volley after David Silva flicked on Kevin De Bruyne’s header across goal.
Liverpool’s response was instant, but Salah, having ridden Zinchenko’s challenge, shot wide.
Sterling stung Alisson’s palms by way of a response and then Liverpool’s talisman sent a third chance over the bar after the Ukrainian’s weak clearance.
The contest settled before the break, but a breathless encounter went up a notch in the second period.
The post denied Sterling and Salah, while City were also grateful for the crossbar as it kept out Virgil Van Dijk’s clipped effort before our No.7 missed a glorious chance.
An opportunity missed and then Liverpool were level.
Like City’s opener, Van Dijk sent a free-kick back across goal and Matip headed home from six-yards to set up a frantic final 15 minutes.
Jurgen Klopp’s side had their tails up and City were indebted to John Stones and Walker, with the former at full stretch to block Salah’s goal-bound strike and the latter clearing the rebound off the line with seconds remaining.
Laying down a marker
City and Liverpool were the runaway top two last season, playing some exceptional football in a ding-dong battle for the title that created a 25-point gap between third-placed Chelsea.
It added an additional layer of intrigue to the latest instalment of English football’s annual curtain raiser, as a rivalry settled by the finest of margins resumed.
In his programme notes, Guardiola labelled Klopp’s Liverpool one of the best sides he’s ever faced and this was another keenly contested clash between two teams whose default is to attack.
That City prevailed at the expense of team the Catalan expects to again challenge for honours is a welcome confidence boost and will no doubt have buoyed the players ahead of the new campaign.
And that sets us up nicely for the kind of fast start which has characterised our two most recent title triumphs.
Moment of the match
Walker and Stones combining to keep the scores level as the clocked ticked down.
Bravo will rightly take the plaudits for his shootout save, but it wouldn't have got to that stage but for this sterling defensive work.
City are usually beautiful, but this team can do the gritty side of the game when required. It’s why we've been so successful in recent seasons and it was why we were again at Wembley.
Superb last-ditch stuff, showcasing an incredible desire for victory.
David Silva now has the highest number of appearances for City at Wembley, moving ahead of Vincent Kompany in the rankings.
A record which reminds us, as if it was needed, of how important one of City’s greatest has been to our recent success.
Man of the Match
Claudio Bravo. There were plenty of impressive displays but this game went to the wire and it was the keeper who won it for us.
City’s Premier League campaign begins next Saturday, when we travel to West Ham United for the day’s early kick-off at 12.30pm.
Guardiola’s side will be hoping they can pick up where they left off last season and an opening day victory would be City’s 15th consecutive league win.
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