Manchester City centre-back Nathan Ake headed in the winner as his side beat holders Liverpool 3-2 in a Carabao Cup thriller to reach the quarter-finals.

Despite not playing competitively for a month during the World Cup break, City and Liverpool returned to action at a ferocious pace as Fabio Carvalho (20) canceled out Erling Haaland’s (10) opener in a frantic start.

Riyad Mahrez nudged City back in front two minutes after the break but within 47 seconds Liverpool leveled through Mohamed Salah (48) after Darwin Nunez’s cut-back following a rapid counter.

But an unmarked Ake popped up at the back post to nod in the decisive goal (58) after Kevin De Bruyne’s cross – his second assist of the night – to book City’s place in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals and end the Reds’ five-game unbeaten run in this fixture.

City was drawn to face Southampton in the quarter-finals after Thursday’s win and will travel to St Mary’s on January 10 or 11.

Liverpool almost conceded without touching the ball after the kick-off but was given a reprieve as Haaland showed signs of rustiness when through on goal by miscuing a chip.

Haaland took advantage of Virgil van Dijk’s absence as Joel Matip and Joe Gomez struggled to cope with the City striker while keeping a high line. Haaland nearly set up Cole Palmer five minutes after his missed chance, but the youngster struggled to control his cut-back in a promising area.

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