LIVERPOOL produced a desperately disappointing performance as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Manchester City in the Premier League at Eastlands.
Gareth Barry opened the scoring in the first half and Carlos Tevez netted twice after the break as the Reds failed to build on their promising day with
Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season. Roy Hodgson handed Fernando Torres his first start of the season but there was no Javier Mascherano in the squad as speculation intensified that he could be on his way to Barcelona. The manager insisted the Argentina midfielder's “mind wasn't right” for the clash with City. Defender
Daniel Agger returned after suffering concussion against Arsenal and Hodgson went with an attacking formation with David Ngog, Milan Jovanovic and Dirk Kuyt all supporting Torres.
Big-spending Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini handed a debut to new £26million signing James Milner but £24million striker Mario Balotelli missed out with a knee injury. The Reds were on the defensive from the start with Martin Skrtel booked early on for bringing down Adam Johnson. Johnson went close to breaking the deadlock with a stunning 25-yard strike which whistled just past the post and in the 13th minute City's pressure paid off. Milner got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Barry to side foot a shot past Pepe Reina. Tevez then fired into the side-netting and Barry went close from long range as City remained in the ascendancy. City keeper
Joe Hart was finally called into action 11 minutes before the break but he comfortably kept out Ngog's shot from a tight angle. It was only brief respite for the Reds as City soon pressed forward in search of a second goal. The impressive Johnson cut in off the right flank and sent a shot just past Reina's post. Micah Richards then got the better of Agger and teed up Tevez but Jamie Carragher came to Liverpool's rescue by deflecting his effort behind. The Reds produced their best move of the first half on the stroke of half-time. Jovanovic picked out Torres and he rolled the ball into Steven Gerrard's path on the edge of the box. However, the skipper couldn't control his shot and scuffed it well wide.
Liverpool suffered a disastrous start to the second half as just seven minutes in City doubled their lead. Richards rose highest to meet Johnson's corner and his header was turned in from close range by Tevez. The Reds responded brightly and went desperately close to reducing the deficit on 57 minutes. Gerrard hammered a 20-yarder against the post and from the follow up Hart produced a stunning double stop to deny Ngog and then Torres. Howeve, any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Skrtel tripped Johnson in the area midway through the second half.
Tevez stepped up to send Reina the wrong way from the penalty spot for his second goal of the night.