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De Bruyne, Haaland power Man City past Liverpool, into League Cup QFs

It was business as usual for Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, as Manchester City returned from the 2022 World Cup break with a thrilling 3-2 victory over holders Liverpool in the League Cup round of 16 at Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Manchester City will resume their title defense when the PL returns on Wednesday, Dec. 28, when Jesse Marsch and Leeds host the defending Premier League champions at Elland Road (WATCH LIVE). Liverpool will be in action again on Boxing Day (Monday, Dec. 26), away to Aston Villa (WATCH LIVE).

De Bruyne picked out Haaland with a cross toward the penalty spot just as Haaland got wrong side of Joe Gomez and beat him to the ball. The finish was hardly easy, with Haaland arriving at a high rate of speed and pinpoint precision required to touch it home. He made it look easy.

Fabio Carvalho turned home a cross from James Milner to level the score in the 20th minute, and it would stay 1-1 until halftime. Two minutes into the second half, Riyad Mahrez brought the ball down from the sky and whipped a left-footed curler inside the far post with two silky smooth touches in the blink of an eye. 2-1 to Manchester City, but not for long.

Mohamed Salah made it 2-2 just a minute later after Darwin Nunez got in behind 18-year-old right back Rico Lewis, who was otherwise stellar on the night, down the left side. Nunez found Salah near the penalty spot after he peeled away from Nathan Ake, sending a slow roller over the line for another instant response.

De Bruyne wasn’t done, though, his best work still to come on assist no. 2. After taking the short corner quickly, De Bruyne floated a brilliant cross to the back post where Ake was arriving after making the late run into the box.

How to watch Manchester City vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Thursday (December 22)Live updates from NBCSports.comOnline: Stream via ESPN+

Key storylines

All eyes will be on Erling Haaland as he has had six weeks to rest up and he will no doubt be hungry to add to his incredible tally of 23 goals in 18 games for Man City so far this season. With Julian Alvarez still celebrating Argentina’s World Cup victory in his homeland, there is even more pressure on Haaland to deliver the goods. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to worry about anything.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has given plenty of minutes to his youngsters over the midseason friendlies, but the likes of Mohamed Salah, Thiago Alcantara, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson and Roberto Firmino have been around the whole time so they should all be feeling fresh. Both Man City and Liverpool have commented positively about their World Cup players coming back fresh and sharp after featuring in big World Cup games just a week or so ago.

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan will feature after their early exits at the World Cup. While the likes of Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and John Stones have all returned to training the day before this game against Liverpool. Ederson will return back from Brazil soon, so Stefan Ortega will start in goal.

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Arthur Melo remain out with injuries, while Curtis Jones is almost fit and should feature over the festive period. All of Liverpool’s England and Brazil contingent are back in training and available.

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