'Best team in the world' Manchester City clinch thrilling League Cup win over Liverpool

Nathan Ake scores winner in 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium

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Nathan Ake's header proved decisive as Manchester City knocked holders Liverpool out of the League Cup in a dramatic 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

This last-16 clash marked the return to competitive action of two of English football's heavyweights following the World Cup break with City's Kevin De Bruyne the outstanding player on the day.

Defender Nathan Ake headed in what proved to be the winning goal in the 58th minute after Mohamed Salah had equalised one minute after Riyad Mahrez restored City's advantage early in the second half.

Erling Haaland scored his 24th goal of the season in all competitions to put City ahead in the 10th minute at the Etihad Stadium but Liverpool responded in the 20th, when Fabio Carvalho knocked in a James Milner pass to complete a flowing move.

It was another fast and furious game between the two rivals who took the Premier League title race to a dramatic conclusion last season.

Pep Guardiola's City will travel to Southampton in the quarter-finals.

"After the World Cup and a long time of not playing, both teams were incredible with high level and intensity," City manager Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"Liverpool are so difficult, when they play good they destroy you."

He added: "Kevin played with a fire inside of him. He had to find it. What a player. How many years he's been coming here? Eight years? He's an absolute legend."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed a "spectacular game" even though he lamented some slack defending.

"We played probably the best team in the world [so] it is normal you struggle in moments," he said.

"We will not play every three days against Manchester City but we can do better and will work on it.

"We should have defended all three goals much better. The third goal especially, we are not switched on when they start their little routine and with the cross coming in we are not in the right positions.

"So there is obviously still a lot of space for improvement but then we had our moments, we could have scored more goal.

"But we can do better and we will work on that and then let's make sure we're ready for Aston Villa [on Boxing Day]."

Meanwhile, Guardiola claims England midfielder Kalvin Phillips returned from the World Cup "not in the right condition to train".

The £42million summer signing from Leeds, who played just 40 minutes in Qatar, had made just four substitute appearances this season because of a shoulder injury and was initially a doubt to even make Gareth Southgate's squad.

However, he has arrived back in a state with which Guardiola felt did not justify his inclusion in the squad for the League Cup victory over Liverpool.

"Kalvin Phillips is not fit. He did not arrive in the best condition to train and play," said the City boss.

Updated: December 23, 2022, 4:31 AM