MANCHESTER, England -- Liverpool will not be winning back-to-back Carabao Cups after Manchester City sent them home on Thursday with a dramatic 3-2 fourth round win for City at the Etihad. Man City advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face Southampton, with matches set to begin the week of Jan. 9.
1. City chasing Liverpool's record after dumping holders from Cup competition
Manchester City can equal Liverpool's record of nine EFL Cup wins this season after eliminating last season's winners from the competition.
With London giants Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham already out of the competition, the biggest threat to City winning the Carabao Cup once again appears to come from either Manchester United or Newcastle as the cup enters the quarterfinal stage.
But no matter who City must overcome if they are to win the cup at Wembley next February, manager Pep Guardiola and his men are clear favourites to extend their domination of the competition.
City have won five of the past seven Carabao Cups, with only Liverpool last season and United, in 2017, able to wrestle the cup from City's clutches.
Since Guardiola took charge of City in the summer of 2016, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach has guided the club to nine major trophies, including a domestic treble in 2018-19.
So the challenge facing the remaining clubs is obvious -- they have to find a way of beating City.
Having not played since mid-November due to the World Cup shutdown, City's performance against Liverpool was ominous.
They have such depth and experience, plus the goals of Haaland, that they already look unstoppable.
And with the FA Cup due to start in January, how long before we start talking about City chasing a quadruple again? It's almost guaranteed.
2. After missing World Cup, Haaland and Salah are back in business
But after six weeks spent on the sidelines resting up, both strikers got straight back to the business of scoring goals in this tie.
Haaland scored his 24th goal of the season when he escaped marker Joe Gomez to volley Kevin De Bruyne's cross into the net on 11 minutes, but the former Borussia Dortmund forward could -- and should -- have scored after just 25 seconds when he tried an audacious shot from long range.
It was a breathtaking start by the 22-year-old, who looked as though he had been desperate to get back on the pitch after spending too long watching the rest of the world's top players perform in Qatar.
Salah took longer to get going, but he still got his name on the scoresheet early in the second half when he scored from 12 yards after being teed up by Darwin Nunez.
Salah is different kind of forward to Haaland -- more style and silk than Haaland's sheer power -- but the two of them are undoubtedly the best two strikers in the Premier League.
After one game back, they are already both up and running in terms of goals, and it's clear there will be plenty more to come this season.
3. Kids show the future is bright for Liverpool and Man City
The depth of the Manchester City and Liverpool squads was borne out by the strength of the starting teams selected by managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
But while the mixture of World Cup players and those who failed to qualify for Qatar was to be expected, it was a surprise to see both Guardiola and Klopp hand out chances to their emerging youngsters at the Etihad.
City started with 18-year-old right-back Rico Lewis and 20-year-old forward Cole Palmer, while Liverpool had Stefan Bajcetic (18 years old), Harvey Elliott (19) and Fabio Carvalho (20) in their starting lineup.
Both Lewis and Palmer were born within 10 miles of the Etihad and are proof of City's thriving youth policy, which is finding and nurturing the very best local talent.
Lewis showed himself to be a tenacious, pacey defender and gave Salah a tough time in the second half, while Palmer should have scored at least two goals in a frantic opening to the game.
And Spain-born Bajcetic, whose Serbian father, Srdan, played alongside Thiago Alcantara's father, Mazinho, at Celta Vigo, was impressive in midfield before being replaced by the more experienced Fabinho at half-time.
Many top clubs use the Carabao Cup to give minutes to their promising youngsters, and City's and Liverpool's next generation took their chance in this match.
Manchester City: Stefan Ortega 6; Rico Lewis 7, Manuel Akanji 6, Aymeric Laporte 6, Nathan Ake 7; Rodri 5, Ilkay Gundogan 6; Riyad Mahrez 7, Kevin De Bruyne 8, Cole Palmer 6; Erling Haaland 7.
Subs: John Stones 6, Jack Grealish 6, Phil Foden 6, Bernardo Silva 6.
Liverpool: Caoimhin Kelleher 8; James Milner 6, Joe Gomez 5, Joel Matip 6, Andy Robertson 7; Harvey Elliott 7, Stefan Bajcetic 6, Thiago Alcantara 6; Darwin Nunez 7, Mohamed Salah 7, Fabio Carvalho 7.
Subs: Nat Phillips 7, Fabinho 6, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Jordan Henderson 6, Naby Keita 6.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Caoimhin Kelleher, Liverpool
The Liverpool goalkeeper has saved his team more than once in this competition, but although he was on the losing side on this occasion, the Republic of Ireland international kept his team in the game as City dominated in the first half.
WORST: Rodri, Manchester City
The Manchester City midfielder played with an unusual lack of discipline. He kicked out at Carvalho in the first half and wildly overreacted to a Fabinho challenge. Rodri should have been sent off with two yellow cards.
Highlights and notable moments
If there were any concerns that Erling Haaland might've cooled off during the World Cup break, he quickly put them to rest. The striker did not make the trip to Qatar as his Norway side didn't qualify for the tournament, but the time off seems to have rejuvenated him.
Less than 10 minutes back in action for Manchester City, Haaland found his way to a cross from Kevin De Bruyne and willed it into the net, putting Man City up 1-0 over Liverpool:
RIGHT WHERE HE LEFT OFF!!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 22, 2022
Erling Haaland puts City in front ⚡ pic.twitter.com/PdMmP6JTCC
It didn't take long for Liverpool to strike back -- less than 10 minutes, in fact.
Fábio Carvalho tapped in a cross from James Milner for a cool finish:
Carvalho brings Liverpool level 🔥 pic.twitter.com/9Ax6m8K6ui— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) December 22, 2022
The second-half whistle had barely been blown by the time Manchester City took their lead back. Upon the restart, Riyad Mahrez got on the end of a ball from Rodri, making it 2-1 for Man City.
Not to be outdone, Liverpool scored a minute later with Mohamed Salah calmly slotting a left-footed shot in, assisted by Darwin Núñez. But you didn't think the goal-scoring would stop there, did you?
Manchester City took the lead for yet a third time in the 58th minute, with De Bruyne's cross finding the head of Nathan Aké.
De Bruyne puts it on a plate for Nathan Ake 🎯 pic.twitter.com/4yYZOAAEXQ— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 22, 2022
After the match: What the players and managers said
Manchester City defender Nathan Ake on the pace of the game: "We didn't have too much training [before the game due players returning from the World Cup], so it was a little bit tough in the end, a little bit cramping there. But I think everyone fought well, to see players that have been off for a little while coming in like this, it was good."
Ake on returning from the World Cup: "It was experience to play in the World Cup, but after you have a few days off, then you have to come back in, in a different environment, different way of playing, so it's a bit of adjusting and stuff. But we went through well today and hopefully we carry on like this."
Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez on City's chances now that Liverpool are knocked out: "I don't know who's left. We beat Chelsea and Liverpool, two top teams. We'll see, but we're going to take it game by game and train for the next Premier League game, which is most important for us at the moment."
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
Erling Haaland scored his 24th goal in all competitions this season -- the most this season by any player in Europe's top five leagues. He has scored a goal in three of his past four matches across all competitions.
Kevin De Bruyne, who assisted Haaland's goal, has assisted a quarter (6) of Haaland's 24 goals this season in all competitions.
Manchester City: After a World Cup that asked more of Man City's starters than any other team in the Premier League, the Citizens head to Leeds to face Leeds United on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at 3 p.m. ET. Leeds coach Jesse Marsch, former coach of Haaland, joked that the Man City striker should sit the match out if he wanted. He probably wouldn't mind if Haaland took the request seriously, though -- Man City sit second on the table while Leeds are 15th.
Liverpool: The Reds are back to Premier League action after Christmas, traveling to take on Aston Villa on Monday, Dec. 26, at 2:30 p.m. ET. Villa sit 12th on the Premier League table while Liverpool sit at No. 6.