Liverpool's defence of the Carabao Cup ended with a 3-2 defeat by Manchester City in Thursday night's fourth-round tie.
As the domestic campaign resumed for both teams, Erling Haaland and Fabio Carvalho were on target during an event-filled opening half at Etihad Stadium.
And the relentless pattern continued into the second period, with Riyad Mahrez and Mohamed Salah finding the net in minutes 47 and 48 respectively.
But it was City who ultimately claimed a place in the competition’s quarter-finals as Nathan Ake’s header proved the decisive goal of the encounter.
With Roberto Firmino ruled out due to injury, Darwin Nunez led a Liverpool attack that also included Carvalho and Salah from the start.
Fabinho and Jordan Henderson were on the bench following their participation at the World Cup.
Liverpool: Kelleher, Milner (Phillips, 38), Gomez, Matip, Robertson, Bajcetic (Fabinho, 46), Thiago (Keita, 70), Elliott (Henderson, 57), Carvalho (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 46), Salah, Nunez.
Unused substitutes: Adrian, Tsimikas, Ramsay, Doak.
City created the game’s opening chance inside the first minute, but Haaland could only scoop a finish too high over Caoimhin Kelleher’s goal having picked up a through ball.
Immediately at the other end, Aymeric Laporte had to block away Nunez as the Liverpool No.27 lined up an effort inside the hosts’ box.
Haaland marginally avoided an offside call soon after to break free on the right-hand side and this time picked out Cole Palmer, who got his side-footer wrong and skewed the ball wide.
The home side got the breakthrough on 10 minutes, however, as Kevin De Bruyne got into space on the left wing and swept in a delivery that Haaland reached first and whipped beyond Kelleher.
Nunez sent a strike onto the post from an offside position as the Reds sought to respond – and Jürgen Klopp’s men did land a levelling blow with 20 on the clock.
Joel Matip carried possession out from the back and slid a clever pass into James Milner on the right edge of the box. He rolled the ball square for the waiting Carvalho and a precise finish into the bottom left corner followed.
The pace of the game remained relentless and big chances were created by both teams before the interval.
A Mahrez flick-on sent De Bruyne clear down the right flank and he used Haaland in the middle as a decoy to drag a cross further back to Ilkay Gundogan – but his low drive was blocked by the legs of Kelleher.
When City recycled the attack from the cleared corner kick, De Bruyne swung in a ball from deep that Ake sent goalwards, only to also be denied by Kelleher.
Back came Liverpool, who lost Milner to an injury on 38 minutes that saw Nathaniel Phillips introduced from the bench and Joe Gomez switched to right-back.
Nunez twice sent attempts wide of the left post, first from a Gomez clip in behind and then in added time as he met Andy Robertson’s dropping set-piece.
The break did nothing to slow down the frantic nature of the tie and the sides traded a goal apiece within three minutes of the play resuming.
First, Mahrez collected a pass out to the right channel, moved inside to a shooting position and dispatched a clinical curler past Kelleher’s reach to restore City’s lead.
But the Reds summoned a second equaliser of the night in a matter of moments – and via an excellently crafted goal, too.
Half-time substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain brilliantly held possession and released Nunez down with the left with an outside-of-the-boot pass. The Uruguayan bounded forward and cutely teed up Salah in the centre to nudge in as Stefan Ortega Moreno emerged from goal.
Henderson made his return to club duty from the bench just shy of the hour mark, which arrived with City in front for a third occasion.
A short corner on the left touchline saw De Bruyne serve a cross into the far post, where Ake was placed to nod a header back across Kelleher for 3-2.
Liverpool appeals for a penalty when Oxlade-Chamberlain went down under the challenge of Ake inside the box were rejected, before carving out a clear chance for Nunez.
Gomez’s defence-splitting through ball allowed the No.27 to race into a one-on-one with Ortega Moreno on the angle, but he pulled his shot wide of the left post.
And with no further amend to the scoresheet, despite more opportunities as time ticked away, it was City who progressed to the Carabao Cup last eight.