Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino stand out in Liverpool's defeat to Man City

Press Association Sport 09:25 05/08/2019
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Manchester City edged out last season’s title rivals Liverpool 5-4 on penalties to open the new domestic campaign with victory in the Community Shield.

The two teams were separated by just one point in the Premier League last term and it took a shootout to split them in the season opener at Wembley as it was 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made the decisive intervention, saving Liverpool’s second penalty from Georginio Wijnaldum.

City had led for most of normal time after former Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling scored against his old club for the first time in the 12th minute.

Champions League winners Liverpool responded well and went close several times before substitute Joel Matip levelled 13 minutes from time.

LIVERPOOL

Alisson Becker: Got a foot and a hand to Sterling’s close-range effort but could not keep it out. Remained composed when faced with a second-half Sterling one-on-one. 6

Trent Alexander-Arnold: Took a while to get to grips with Raheem Sterling once the City forward was moved wide. Did not threaten with his delivery and had a frustrating afternoon. 5

Joe Gomez: Recovered from an early loss of possession to Sterling which almost led to a goal. Pace a big asset in getting him out of trouble. Seamlessly switched to right-back. 6

Virgil Van Dijk: Not quite the dominant force Liverpool fans have become used to as City swarmed forward early on but recovered his composure. 7

Andy Robertson: Restricted in his forward runs by the threat of Bernardo Silva. More adventurous after the break and Liverpool were better for it. 6

Jordan Henderson: Controlled rather than dynamic performance in midfield but had to factor in defensive duties. 6

Fabinho: Could not impose himself defensively as he would have liked. Had few opportunities to express his passing range. 5

Georginio Wijnaldum: Was the most willing of the midfield three to support the attack but was not utilised enough. Played holding role for final 20 minutes. 5

Mohamed Salah: Could arguably have had a first-half hat-trick had his radar been switched on. Maintained his threat after the break and could – and probably should – have had at least one goal. 8

Roberto Firmino: One of Liverpool’s best two performers. Only returned at the start of the week but showed he had lost none of his touch or vision. 7

Divock Origi: Drifted in and out of the game and did not get much change out of Kyle Walker. Provided no real threat. 4

Substitutes

Naby Keita (for Fabinho, 67): Had a shot parried by Bravo but should probably have done better. Added some drive. 7

Joel Matip (for Alexander-Arnold, 67): Made his impact in the opposition penalty area with a headed equaliser. Outmuscled Jesus in one individual duel. 7

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (for Origi, 79): Found it difficult to get involved as the pace became increasingly hectic. 5

Adam Lallana (for Henderson, 79): Had some good touches but nothing clinical. 5

Xherdan Shaqiri (for Firmino, 79): Little chance to impose himself but had one late shot saved. 5

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Simon Mignolet leaving Liverpool and is set to return to his homeland with Club Brugge

Press Association Sport 08:54 05/08/2019
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Simon Mignolet’s six-year spell at Liverpool is coming to an end with the goalkeeper set to return to his homeland with Club Brugge.

The goalkeeper has agreed a five-year contract, pending a medical, the Belgian club have announced.

PA understands the two clubs agreed a deal worth an initial £6.4million, potentially rising to £8.2million with add-ons.

Mignolet lost his place at Anfield first to Loris Karius and, when the German was offloaded to Besiktas on loan after a nightmare Champions League final, to Alisson Becker following the Brazil international’s £65m arrival last summer.

After featuring just twice last season in cup matches the 31-year-old, an unused substitute for the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City, told manager Jurgen Klopp when he returned for pre-season training he wanted first-team football.

Klopp wanted him to stay and initially rejected the idea he could leave but the goalkeeper’s wish has now been granted.

Mignolet flew to Belgium after leaving Wembley on Sunday evening to complete the formalities of his move.

Liverpool will look to sign an experienced replacement as cover for Becker before the close of the transfer window on Thursday.

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Jurgen Klopp still waiting for band to get back together at Liverpool

Press Association Sport 09:32 03/08/2019
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Jurgen Klopp cannot yet enjoy the luxury of keeping a winning squad intact as he is still waiting for all of his players to be reunited.

Klopp led Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles earlier in his career but lost the likes of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich and Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United.

All of Liverpool‘s first-team players have remained following their Champions League success but Klopp only got Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker and Roberto Firmino back with his squad on Monday after they were given time to recover from international duty.

And Sadio Mane will not report back until the day after Sunday’s FA Community Shield encounter with Manchester City after helping Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final.

Klopp was also without Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri until this week following injuries to the pair and Liverpool failed to win their first four pre-season friendlies before beating Lyon on Wednesday.

The five late arrivals might not be ready to start at Wembley so Klopp is preoccupied with finding a winning formula following the staggered starts to pre-season rather than enjoying the continuity.

“It is (nice) but it’s not exactly like this because I lost six players for pre-season, which is semi-cool,” he said.

“For the first time in my career, now or from Monday onwards when Sadio is back as well, I will have my team together from last year.

“We have to use it but these other transfers we did, keeping this team together, staying on our toes, staying aggressive, staying greedy and let’s go again. We will see.

“But the only worst thing that could happen is that we won all the (pre-season) games easily without six players, because problems will come in the season and we have already got a little taste of problems and we have to make sure we are ready and bring solutions, and that’s what pre-season is about.”

The German added: “We have to train together and games are coming up and in that period we still have to win football games. That’s the main thing I am thinking about at the moment, how we can do that, and I don’t think too much about how happy I am that the boys are still together.

“We decided that long ago and I’m not surprised that has happened.”

Both Mane and Salah have been playing at AFCON.

Both Mane and Salah have been playing at AFCON.

Liverpool face a major task in improving on their record top-flight points total and sixth European title, but might have to get even better to knock City off their perch following two consecutive title wins for Pep Guardiola’s side, the latest by 98 points to Liverpool’s 97.

“The higher you get the more difficult it is to improve but we have a lot of space for improvement,” Klopp said. “It’s always like this in football. After a break, first and foremost you have to reach the level of last year again. It was a good one. So that’s the first target we have.

“When that happens then you make the next steps but it’s not always easy. It’s not PlayStation when you can go on to the next skill.

“We have to bring players together and they have to do the same thing in the right moment. That’s very important. A lot of things depend on confidence so where can get that from, which result?

“So being consistent in doing the same again would be improvement as well, at our highest levels, so in specific points we can improve for sure.”

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