Manchester City sent out an early season warning to their title rivals after a thumping 3- 1 victory over last season's runners-up Liverpool.
Two goals from Stevan Jovetic either side of half-time gave City a commanding hold on the game at the Etihad Stadium, before Sergio Aguero clinched the victory late on. Pablo Zabaleta scored an own goal in the 83rd minute, but the Reds never looked like getting anything once they went behind.
The first half was a tightly-contested affair, full of the physicality and commitment that you would expect in an early season meeting between the top two teams from last term. Had Liverpool scored first it could have been a different game.
But despite the fact that Raheem Sterling made some dangerous runs and Daniel Sturridge looked a threat, Brendan Rogers' side never threatened to score in the first half.
After the opening half an hour, City got into their stride and it seemed only a matter of time before they would get a chance. The breakthrough came in the 40th minute, after a mistake from Alberto Moreno allowed Stevan Jovetic in to smash the ball home. The Spanish defender failed to clear the ball in the box and it fell to Jovetic who was clinical from six yards.
It was important for Liverpool that they kept themselves in the game as long as possible, but City doubled their lead after just ten second-half minutes. Jovetic linked-up well with Samir Nasri before finding space in the box and smashing home the Frenchman's low cross.
Liverpool kept on fighting and almost got their breakthrough as Sturridge forced a good save from Joe Hart in the 65th minute.
However, Sergio Aguero came on minutes little and scored with his first touch to wrap up the game. He had been on the pitch for just 23 seconds when he latched onto Jesus Navas' through ball and slotted past Simon Mignolet.
From this point you feared for Liverpool. With well over 20 minutes remaining and with City rampant it could have easily became humiliating. But City then took their foot of the gas and an influx of substitutions killed the momentum of the game.
Rickie Lambert was introduced in the final ten minutes and gave the visiting supporters something to smile about, as he forced an own goal four minutes after his arrival. The former Southampton man latched onto a deep cross from Sturridge and Zabaleta had no option but to bundle the ball into his own net.
It could have been worse for the champions, as moments later Sturridge almost capitalised on confusion in the City defence but it wasn't to be. And to make matters worse for Rodgers' side, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel and Moreno all picked up injuries in the last five minutes.
Overall it was a competitive game until City took the lead. From that point Manuel Pellegrini's side took control and posed a threat each time they went forward.
While Liverpool had chances, they lacked the cutting edge of Luis Suarez, and it remains to be seen whether they can come so close to the Premier League title without his services.
As for City, with the squad rich in depth and quality, they set the standards for other teams to reach.
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