SHEIKH MANSOUR finally made the trip to Manchester City to see what his millions had bought him – and was not disappointed as Roberto Mancini’s men delivered a performance of title-winning promise.
Striker Carlos Tevez struck twice and Gareth Barry notched the other while debutant James Milner drove City on tirelessly and winger Adam Johnson ran Liverpool’s defence ragged.
A comprehensive defeat of one of their rivals for a top four place, it also ranked as one of the club’s best performances since Mancini took charge in December and suggests a £130m summer spending spree has worked.
That will have been gratifying for Sheikh Mansour, who undertook the 3,500-mile journey to Eastlands for the first time since making the club among the richest in the world almost two years ago.
After last night’s performance, perhaps he will deign City worthy of a visit more often.
“He was very happy because it was the first time he saw City beat Liverpool. I think it was a good night,” said Mancini. “I hope he can come every week, but I don’t think it is possible.”
Mancini added: “I thought we played well. We beat a strong team like Liverpool, who can fight for the title. This win helped us believe in ourselves and this is important.”
Milner, making his first start since last week’s £24m switch, caught the eye and pulled back for his former Aston Villa team-mate Barry to stroke home the 13th-minute opener following good work by Johnson.
Tevez doubled City’s lead just after half-time – or at least claimed he did. The Argentine turned and swung a boot at Micah Richards’ goal-bound header, the ball squirming past Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.
Facing defeat, Liverpool redoubled their efforts but were denied by the woodwork and then a Joe Hart double save in the space of one attack. Steven Gerrard’s drive thwacked off the post, and Hart parried David Ngog’s shot before bravely smothering Torres’s rebound.
That proved the turning point as, moments later, Johnson jinked past Daniel Agger and then Martin Skrtel, only for the Slovakia defender to chop him down with a crude sliding tackle. Tevez sent Reina the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Doubts grow over Mascherano future
LIVERPOOL midfielder Javier Mascherano edged closer to a move to Barcelona after being left out of the team at Eastlands last night.
The Argentine is wanted by Barca, and Reds manager Roy Hodgson admitted Mascherano’s abs
ence was down to uncertainty over whether he would remain at Anfield.
Hodgson said: “There is speculation about his future and at the moment his mind isn’t right, so it wasn’t correct to select him. It will happen, I guess, a day when the offer for him matches our valuation, but until that day he stays with us.”