Tevez claims two as City cream Reds

City flexed their enormous financial muscles to delight the man who
made it all possible and deliver their biggest beating of Liverpool
since 1937. Sheikh Mansour could not have picked a better night to
watch the team he has spent £1billion on in a league game for
the first time. With James Milner enjoying an outstanding debut,
City were far too good for a Liverpool side who have a week to get
themselves into some sort of shape given Javier Mascherano’s
absence seems like the next step in a big-money move to Barcelona.
Milner set up Gareth Barry for City’s opener before Tevez claimed
to have got a touch to Micah Richards’ goalbound header just after
half-time. A brilliant double save from Joe Hart snuffed out any
chance of a revival before Tevez sent Pepe Reina the wrong way from
the spot after Martin Skrtel had fouled Adam Johnson. It capped a
performance that proves City have the credentials and the talent to
win the biggest prize they can this season, if manager Roberto
Mancini can keep his vast squad happy. Had he so wished, Manchester
City’s immensely rich owner could have had his pre-match meal at
the new ‘City Square’ on Joe Mercer Way, part of the
£20million stadium revamp that has taken place since he took
control from the discredited former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra. Rather more costly were the players he has helped
assemble. Nine of them were part of Roberto Mancini’s starting
line-up – Richards and Hart the two exceptions – a sign of the
revolution that has taken place in the past two years.
Long-standing City fans are still pinching themselves at having the
opportunity to watch the likes of Yaya Toure and Tevez. But down
the years, they have taken a huge amount of pride in their academy,
which has produced so many first-team players, Richards among them.
The level City are operating at now means continuing that work is
going to be tough. Instead, pleasure has to be derived in different
ways. So to have the stamp “Made in England” embossed on their
first Premier League goal of the season was an achievement to be
noted. That the goal came about because of a momentary failure from
Steven Gerrard just brought added poignancy. Johnson spotted Milner
advancing just beyond the Liverpool skipper and found him with a
smart pass. Milner delivered the perfect cut-back into an area he
hoped a team-mate had filled. Barry obliged and did the business
from 10 yards with a neat side-footed finish. It was the high point
of a one-sided first-half. Tevez and Johnson both found the
side-netting from an acute angle. Johnson had earlier driven a
fierce shot wide and Milner’s running was intelligent and incisive.
Liverpool could certainly not have complained if they had been
further adrift. Roy Hodgson’s men struggled to retain any source of
possession, which just confirmed the gaping hole Mascherano will
leave should he get his wish to start another phase of his career
away from Anfield. Liverpool appear too deficient in too many areas
for Hodgson to waste much time persuading someone intent on leaving
that his future remains on Merseyside. In a meagre first-half, the
visitors created just a single chance, which the returning Fernando
Torres set up for Gerrard, who wasted it. The only time Liverpool
got any nearer after half-time was in the flurry of activity that
followed Gerrard’s explosive free-kick that thudded against the
post. Hart was beaten on that occasion but not when David Ngog had
a go. England’s new number one palmed that away, straight into
Torres’ path. It seemed a certain goal but Hart stood firm again,
repelling the Spain striker with a magnificent save with his left
hand. That this all came after a second City goal, which Tevez
claimed even though any touch to a Richards header from Milner’s
corner was so faint as to render it impossible to spot. Reina could
not keep it out anyway. Nor did the goalkeeper do any better when
Tevez sent him the wrong way from the spot after Johnson had been
fouled by Skrtel. All summer, the football talk around these two
clubs has centred around breaking into that top four. On this
evidence, only City are capable of that. And, thanks to Sheikh
Mansour’s largesse, they are capable of much more besides too.