Liverpool will have felt that City’s first goal in the 42nd minute came against the run of play, but nevertheless it was the champions who were ahead at the break when Stevan Jovetic slammed the ball home after an error from new left-back Alberto Moreno.
Liverpool had only themselves to blame again once more as Jovetic doubled the lead in the 55th minute with a spot of goal-poaching, entirely unmarked on the left side of the box and able to fire home from Samir Nasri.
After that, City began to exert their dominance, and it was Sergio Aguero’s individual brilliance that put the game out of sight, seconds after coming on as a substitute for Edin Dzeko, who was in pain after receiving Martin Skrtel’s studs to his thigh. Aguero raced on to a through-ball from fellow substitute Jesus Navas, pulling free of the Liverpool defence and firing under the hands of Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool managed to claw a goal back thanks to the combined efforts of Rickie Lambert’s head, Joe Hart’s torso and Pablo Zabaleta’s shin (which eventually got the credit), but it was too little too late.
And injury was added to insult as Glen Johnson limped off five minutes before time when Brendan Rodgers had already made all three substitutions; and that was followed by Moreno turning his ankle on the astroturf surrounding the pitch.
Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart (C) punches the ball away from Liverpool's Martin Skrtel (L) and Dejan Lovren …
7' - CHANCE! Confusion on the part of Lovren, leaving Dzeko in too much space in the middle, but his shot is wide.
33' - CLOSE! Sturridge does really well to get a shot in, moving round Kompany after a ball in by Sterling on the right. He picks up the rebound as well, but no luck and City clear to launch the counter.
41' - GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Liverpool: And Liverpool will be fuming with themselves. Very square defence, and Jovetic nips in around Alberto Moreno, who's swinging his leg at thin air.
55' - GOAL! Manchester City 2-0 Liverpool: Jovetic doubles his tally for the evening with a touch of quintessential goal-poaching. He's left utterly unmarked as the ball zings across the box from Nasri on the right and rifles it home.
58' - UNLUCKY! Manchester City are taking Liverpool apart now. They probably should have had a third there but the referee thought Dzeko had fouled his marker - it looked more like the other way round.
69' - GOAL! Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool: Well, that didn't take long. Aguero catches Liverpool napping, picking up a lovely ball from Navas on the right, and getting in front of the defence to fire underneath Mignolet's despairing hand.
83' - GOAL! Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool: It's one messy goal back for Liverpool, as Rickie Lambert's head, Pablo Zabaleta's shin and Joe Hart's body combine to get the ball over the line.
Sergio Aguero's goal, 23 seconds after coming on, is the fastest by a substitute in the Premier League since Apostolos Vellios scored after 17 seconds against Chelsea in 2011-12.
Stevan Jovetic has scored four goals in two competitive games against Liverpool (two for City, two for Fiorentina).
Manchester City have scored at least once in 69 of their last 70 Premier League home games.
Manchester City have not lost a Premier League home match in which they took the lead in five years, since they lost 1-3 to Fulham in February 2009.
Mario Balotelli arrives at the Etihad (Twitter)
Liverpool fans’ attention was unsurprisingly drawn to the sidelines, where their new signing Mario Balotelli, sporting hat and snood, was watching. He was lauded by his new boss Brendan Rodgers as a “very bright boy”, but was also described as “trouble” - a word that may also accurately be deployed about his predecessor Luis Suarez. On the plus side, Rodgers seemed confident that he can work well with his new acquisition and that they will get on together to fulfil his potential. Time will tell - and in the meantime, we can speculate.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) - bright, brisk, and good value for his brace. Suddenly looks every inch the player City paid Fiorentina £22m for last year.
Liverpool: Mignolet 7, Johnson 6, Moreno 5, Skrtel 7, Lovren 6, Gerrard 6, Henderson 7, Allen 6, Coutinho 5, Sterling 7, Sturridge 6. Subs: Toure, Can 6, Markovic 6, Lambert 7.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester City
- Stevan Jovetic
- Sergio Aguero
- Alberto Moreno
- Simon Mignolet