WHO needs the World Cup when you have these two on our doorstep?
Some football fans may be slightly hungover after Sunday’s tournament in Qatar ended.
But trust the best teams in the country to blow the cobwebs and pick me up perfectly.
After a series of problems with the fans in recent years, both clubs had asked for calm in advance.
This seemed to be followed in the stands – but on the pitch it was anything but peaceful.
Five goals – including the inevitable one from Erling Haaland – a slew of missed chances at both ends and plenty of pin between these two deadly rivals.
If this doesn’t get your juices flowing for the return of domestic football and what lies ahead, then nothing will.
From the first minute you just couldn’t take your eyes off it.
While 16 of his teammates are in action at the World Cup, Haaland has been putting his feet up for a few weeks.
The Norwegian was probably counting down the days until that one and was perhaps a little over-zealous when the big moment came in the first minute.
He was picked by Ilkay Gundogan and as he charged for goal, Caoimhin Kelleher rushed out.
Haaland lifted his try over the advancing keeper but got it all wrong as his try was high and wide.
While Aymeric Laporte snuffed out a chance for Darwin Nunez, the best chances came for the home side.
A low cross from Kevin De Bruyne caught Cole Palmer in the middle but the England Under-21 ace faltered and focused his efforts wide.
At least the youngster was involved in the build-up when City took the lead in the tenth minute – and worked it out on De Bruyne down the left.
The Belgian’s teasing cross let Haaland escape Joe Gomez before stabbing a low shot into the corner, giving Kelleher no chance.
Business as usual for the Borussia Dortmund ex-husband – who has made it to 24th place this season.
But City’s lead lasted just 10 minutes as Joel Matip and James Milner created the opening for Fabio Carvalho, who deflected a low shot past Stefan Ortega with minimal fuss.
That reassured the guests, although the best chances were still with the champions.
Palmer’s cross seemed destined for Haaland’s head, but a Mahrez swipe put it just outside his reach.
Another break saw De Bruyne pull back a cross for Gundogan which was denied by legs from Kelleher.
The Reds keeper was there again minutes later to chip away a Nathan Ake header after another great work from De Bruyne.
Former City man Milner had to drop out with Nat Phillips to replace him just before the break.
And the centre-back was called straight into action with a brilliant final moat to deny Haaland another goal sight.
Liverpool finished the half strong when Nunez caught the offside trap and sliced in from the right but hammered his shot over the face of the goal and wide of the far post.
And the Uruguayan had another chance when an Andy Robertson free-kick caught up to him, but again he volleyed wide of the far post.
What a half it was, but it got even better in the first four minutes of the restart.
First up, Mahrez – another player to be refreshed after missing the World Cup – conceded a pass from Rodri.
The Algerian drifted in from the right before spinning a typical left footed shot around Kelleher.
This time, however, the lead lasted less than a minute.
Sub Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent Nunez away on the left and managed to pass Laporte.
He selected attacking partner Mo Salah, who had all the time he needed to bring home his 15th goal of the season.
It was exciting stuff, but it wasn’t finished yet.
After a brief corner practice, De Bruyne set up a lovely cross from the left and Ake had to bang his head on it to restore City’s lead.
De Bruyne really shone – he dressed up as Santa for a club charity event during the week and here he was handing out gifts to his team-mates left, right and centre.
What on earth went wrong in Qatar when their dismal Belgian side fell in the group stage?
Despite this, City had half an hour to hold out this time and Nunez could have equalized again as he again defeated the offside trap and ran clear but missed his shot.
And at the other end, Sub Fabinho cleared a De Bruyne shot off the line to deny the Belgian a deserved goal.
Kelleher then pushed away Phil Foden’s try minutes after the England ace came on.
The keepers clung, but this time there was no turning back.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6975402/man-city-liverpool-carabao-cup-haaland/ Man City 3 Liverpool 2: Haaland takes 10 minutes to open goal after 40-day break as Ake knocks out Carabao Cup holder