MANCHESTER, England - Stevan Jovetic scored twice and Sergio Aguero netted seconds after coming on as a substitute as Manchester City beat predicted title rival Liverpool 3-1 Monday in the first blockbuster game of the Premier League season.
New Liverpool signing Mario Balotelli was in the stands at Etihad Stadium to watch his old teammates make it two wins from two games this campaign and demonstrate how difficult it will be to dethrone the defending champions.
Jovetic, a forgotten man last season after his big-money move from Fiorentina, pounced on a defensive lapse to open the scoring in the 41st minute before starting and finishing the move for his second in the 55th.
Aguero added the third in the 69th with his first touches of the ball before Pablo Zabaleta's own goal gave Liverpool an 83rd-minute consolation against the side that pipped it to the title by two points in May.
It wasn't a commanding performance by City in its first home match since regaining the championship, but they took their chances when they came after weathering a good start by Liverpool.
And in Jovetic, they have a striker keen to make an impression after his career stalled during a first season at the Etihad that was blighted by injury and failure to break into City's star-studded attack.
The Montenegro striker starred for City in preseason and with Aguero working his way to full fitness after the World Cup and Alvaro Negredo out injured, Jovetic is taking his chance to make a statement to manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Signed too late to play against his old club, Balotelli sat alongside new teammate Adam Lallana in the directors' box at the stadium he graced for 2 1/2 years before moving to AC Milan in January 2013.
His new team took the game to City early on but didn't make its dominance count, and was caught by Jovetic's opener.
Alberto Moreno, making his debut for Liverpool at left back, was caught on his heels after Dejan Lovren half-cleared a header and Jovetic pounced, getting in ahead of the Spaniard and smashing a fierce shot through goalkeeper Simon Mignolet's leg.
It was the first real chance for City and with the team's second, it quickly became 2-0 as Jovetic set Samir Nasri free with a clever flick. Nasri crossed for the inrushing Jovetic, who hooked home a finish to reproduce the double he scored against Liverpool for Fiorentina in the Champions League in 2009.
Edin Dzeko limped off injured to be replaced by Aguero, who within barely 20 seconds ran onto Jesus Navas curling pass, took a touch and sidefooted in at the near post.
Zabaleta turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Rickie Lambert to deny City a second straight clean sheet after an opening 2-0 win at Newcastle.
But it's so far, so good for Pellegrini's side, which joined Tottenham, Chelsea and Swansea on six points.