Liverpool exacted a mini-revenge on last year's title spoilers, Manchester City, at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, drawing 2-2 after 90 minutes and prevailing on spot-kicks.
An entertaining, end-to-end match finished goalless at the half but exploded into life during the second period, with Stevan Jovetic again proving his predatory instinct by notching one either side of a Jordan Henderson curler.
Raheem Sterling drew the Reds level at the death with a cute finish, then Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson prevailed in the customary penalty shootout.
The match was played in frenetic fashion throughout, and the tone was set inside the first minute as Liverpool harassed Manchester City into a turnover and slipped Joe Allen into a shooting position.
The Citizens responded through Gael Clichy, playing out of position at right-back, surging forward and cutting inside to shoot from distance.
Jovetic continued his fine pre-season by causing all sorts of issues with his movement, slipping into the box and into space just ahead of the defensive line to receive passes and orchestrate play.
The game quickly became stretched; an end-to-end spectacle. Steven Gerrard began switching play to Jose Enrique to create crossing opportunities, and Jovetic's absurd movement and touches created havoc at the other end.
One particular move saw the Montenegrin combine with Jesus Navas to fire a firm cross into the box that Edin Dzeko couldn't covert, and Jovetic missed two chances himself in the opening half hour.
How the first half ended goalless was beyond anyone, and both sides set out to rectify that from the off in the second period.
Second-half substitute Jack Robinson collected Daniel Sturridge's pass on a classic underlapping run before firing at Joe Hart, then Coutinho received a fortuitous ball in the final third but ran into Matija Nastasic.
City finally opened the scoring in the 53rd minute, and the method in which they netted was somewhat predictable. Navas tore Robinson apart on the right, hit the byline and crossed for Jovetic to bundle home.
GOAL. 1-1. Henderson https://t.co/MxIvsXAwvu— LFC Vine (@LFCVine) July 31, 2014
Liverpool responded by notching one of their own, with Sturridge teeing up Henderson just inside the box for a sweet right-footed finish. Bruno Zuculini then hit the bar from five yards when it was easier to score, and moments later Jovetic grabbed his second of the night.
It came through Navas on the right, of course, whose low ball in caused chaos and eventually fell to his Montenegrin teammate. The finish was feeble, weak even, but it crossed the line and restored the Citizens' lead.
A flurry of substitutes ruined the flow of the game temporarily, but Liverpool found an extra gear from somewhere, built a period of sustained pressure and were rewarded with a second equaliser—Sterling stabbing the ball home after a great Lucas Leiva touch.
At 2-2, the sides were inseparable—City unable to shake the Reds off—and it took penalties to crown Brendan Rodgers' men the honorary winner.
Raheem Sterling is back in red and scoring goals https://t.co/1MKFGG79Cs— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) July 31, 2014
All in all, City came out looking the stronger side, and it's clear Manuel Pellegrini's signings this summer are astute purchases once again.
Navas and Jovetic look ready to rock, and that'll be music to the ears of the City bosses, who've lost Alvaro Negredo and possibly Sergio Aguero to injury to start the season.
Liverpool are in a far earlier stage of development, but their time will come; Sterling's excellence in the second half has fans believing he is the replacement for Luis Suarez after all.
Stevan Jovetic: A
The Montenegrin continued his phenomenal pre-season run in place of Aguero and Negredo, bagging two goals in emphatic fashion.
Jesus Navas: A+
A terror on the right, showing incredible pace, trickery, technique and crossing ability. He's an absolute nightmare to deal with; Robinson and Enrique had a tough night with him.
Jose Enrique: D
Enrique continues to infuriate and enrage Liverpool fans with lacklustre performances, and he did nothing to change opinion here. Wasteful on the ball and exceptionally poor defensively.