Jurgen Klopp’s men held on and put an end to Manchester City’s invincible run in an insane, topsy-turvy game of football, despite a late resurgence from the Citizens.
In a match between the Premier League’s two most explosive goal-scoring teams, there was always going to be fireworks, and how both sides delivered.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got the show going early on in the 9th minute with a pile-driver from distance catching Ederson off guard, leaving the Brazilian sprawling on the floor before ultimately failing to get a hand to it.
The former Arsenal man has been winning over the Anfield faithful recently with his increasingly impressive performances, and he continued to do so today with a goal capping off an outstanding performance in midfield. Who needs Coutinho right?
Despite conceding three goals, Liverpool put in one of their best defensive performances under Klopp against the Citizens. The Reds showed their discipline for most of the game as they held their shape incredibly well. Their midfield and defensive lines acted tight together, creating a narrow and compact defensive block to limit the space between the lines that Guardiola’s men love to wreak havoc in. Eventual failure to break through the middle forced City wide, where little success was found due to lockdown performances by Liverpool’s fullbacks.
However, it only took one lapse in concentration for City to level the scoreline as Leroy Sane took advantage of a Joe Gomez error in the 40th minute to find his way into the box and fire home a bomb of a shot past Loris Karius at his near post. Take nothing away from Sane’s wonderful strike, but Karius should not be allowing anything past his near post, he has to do better.
In the 59th minute, ‘The Ox’ would again play a crucial role in a goal but this time playing provider. A through ball from the Englishman was won very well by Roberto Firmino after John Stones failed to take control of the pass and the Brazilian made no mistake with his finish as he brilliantly chipped it over the keeper.
The floodgates burst open as less than two minutes later, Liverpool grabbed their third of the match as Mohamed Salah capitalized off of a Nicolas Otamendi misclearance. The Egyptian played it across the area for his fellow African Footballer of the Year nominee Sadio Mane, who fired an inch perfect rocket into the top corner of the City goal.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were not finished yet, as the visitors amazingly continued to self-implode. In the 68th minute, Salah would catch Ederson with his knickers down after a misfired clearance from the rushing sweeper keeper was launched straight at the Egyptian talisman, who cooly lifted it into an empty net, sending Liverpool fans into delirium.
Anfield was bouncing as City’s invincible run in the league was coming to an end in stunning fashion— a run extending all the way to April of last year. A scoreline the Reds have been dreaming of seeing since they were played off the park in their 5 – 0 humiliation at the Etihad earlier this season.
However, Guardiola’s men possess a champion’s mentality and never say die attitude until the final whistle as blown. A beautiful exchange running into the box in the 83rd minute from the Citizens saw the ball fall to an un-marked Bernardo Silva to neatly slot home to give the away side a glimmer of hope.
A glimmer began to look like all that City needed as a Gundogan goal in the 91st minute would put the scoreline within one. Chaos inside the 18-yard box would lead to Aguero setting the German up for an easy finish right in front of Karius’ goal.
Fortunately for Liverpool, there was not enough time for City to complete their comeback and the Reds barely escaped with the 3 points against the likely champions-to-be.
City will be disappointed with themselves as they only have themselves to blame, with self-inflicted mistakes leading to their downfall. However, do not discredit Liverpool’s performance today as they were spectacular despite their late meltdown. Guardiola’s multi-headed hydra of an attack found no way through Klopp’s men, who played out their game plan to near perfection. Specifically, Liverpool’s midfield was outstanding as time and time again they cut off and shut down a City team that normally runs through teams like water through cracks.
This win is huge for the Reds as it sends them into third place on goal difference in a three-way tie on 47 points with Manchester United and Chelsea, although Manchester United have a game in hand, playing against Stoke on Monday.
This loss will not do any significant damage to City’s title run as they would find themselves 12 points ahead of second even if United win their game in hand.
Possession: Liverpool: 36% Manchester City: 64%
Shots: Liverpool: 16 Manchester City: 11
Shots on target: Liverpool: 7 Manchester City: 4
Corners: Liverpool: 5 Manchester City: 6
Fouls: Liverpool: 10 Manchester City: 7