Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City: Rampant Reds roll over the champions at Anfield once again as goals from Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane seal three crucial points in the title race… and stretches lead at top of the Premier League to EIGHT POINTS
- Reds midfielder Fabinho opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a long-range shot rifled into the corner
- Goal came moments after Manchester City had a strong penalty appeal turned down for a handball in the box
- Mohamed Salah doubled Liverpool’s advantage after 13 minutes, heading home Andy Robertson’s cross
- City left back Angelino came close to narrowing the deficit as his deflected poke towards goal hit the post
- Sadio Mane made it 3-0 after half-time, heading in at the back post from Jordan Henderson’s pinpoint cross
- Bernardo Silva pulled one back for City, catching Liverpool keeper Alisson out with an accurate left-foot shot
- The win puts Liverpool eight clear at the top of the Premier League, and nine clear of Sunday’s opponents City
A two goal gap at Anfield, a nine point gap in the table – and Liverpool are worth it. All of it. The goals, the points, the incredible distance they have placed between themselves and last season’s champions in the briefest of intervals. They are worth every last inch of their stride to the summit.
Manchester City did not summer well. They did not repair and replace at the back and, yesterday, with injuries that showed. Jurgen Klopp, by contrast, has been assembling this team for several years. That told, too. City could find no way through Liverpool’s back line until it was too late – while every Liverpool foray appeared capable of delivering results. The statistics suggest a closer game than this was, City apparently superior in possession and shots at goal.
In reality, Liverpool were ahead early, convincingly clear within the hour and still comfortable despite City’s several penalty claims and revival towards the end. Plus, when one team always looks like scoring and the other has a blanket thrown over it for roughly 80 minutes, the outcome is fairly predictable. So the scoreline is the truest picture of events. From the sixth minute onwards, this was Liverpool’s victory.
Fabinho’s right-footed strike was an absolute firecracker, whizzing past the Man City defenders into the right-hand corner
The power and accuracy of the strike beat Manchester City’s starting goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, in for the injured Ederson
Defensive midfielder Fabinho celebrates the opening goal, his first of the season, alongside Liverpool’s top scorer Sadio Mane
A VAR review followed, as the ball appeared to hit Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hand in the Liverpool penalty area beforehand
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola remonstrates with fourth official Mike Dean after Liverpool’s opening goal stands
Mohamed Salah doubled Liverpool’s lead early on, heading into the bottom corner from Andy Robertson’s pinpoint cross
Salah’s run beyond the City defence and header into the corner was to perfection, and gave City a mountain to climb early on
Liverpool’s No 11 celebrates his goal with Reds captain Jordan Henderson (L), and strike partner Roberto Firmino
Mane heads in at the back post from Henderson’s delicious cross, with keeper Bravo unable to claw the ball out
Sometimes a team gets into such a good place it is almost as if they forget how to lose. That is where Liverpool are right now. It is more than the old cliché about winning without playing well. It is making the absolute most of opportunity, about riding a little luck, about summoning the resilience to see out a storm.
Liverpool did all three here. It wasn’t that they outplayed Manchester City. The champions did rather well in open play, as Pep Guardiola claimed.
Yet while City found themselves thwarted and smothered, so Liverpool’s counter-attacks were little moments of perfection. When they got a chance, they took it. When they got a sniff, they took that, too. It was an even game, yet Liverpool went in at half-time two goals clear, and extended the lead to three after 51 minutes. Guardiola talked up how well City played and it is true they saw a lot of the ball.
Yet it is equally hard to say Liverpool didn’t deserve this. City had possession because they were chasing. Liverpool, defending a lead, could afford to soak up pressure. There is something hugely impressive about this team and the way Klopp has them playing.
They know exactly what they are about in a way City do not right now, with injuries forcing a makeshift defence. Yet whose fault is that? It is not just that Liverpool look outstandingly coached, they have been outstandingly prepared for this moment. The balance of the team, the recruitment, has been spot on.
City’s No 2 goalkeeper Bravo managed to get a hand to Mane’s header, but could only divert it into the goal’s side-netting
Liverpool’s team celebrates their third goal of the evening, amid a rapturous and jubilant Anfield crowd on Sunday evening
Mane celebrates his goal early in the second-half at the Kop end with Liverpool’s colossal centre back Virgil Van Dijk
Bernardo Silva’s quickfire shot creeps inside the left-hand post, and pulled one back for City with 12 minutes to go in the game
Man City’s Silva fist-pumps after his 76th minute strike, but despite heavy pressure late on Liverpool held on
LIVERPOOL 3-1 MANCHESTER CITY – MATCH FACTS AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson (Milner 61), Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah (Gomez 87), Firmino (Oxlade-Chamberlain 79), Mane
Subs not used: Keita, Adrian, Lallana, Origi
Goals: Fabinho 6, Salah 13, Mane 51
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3): Bravo, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Angelino, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Aguero (Jesus 71), Sterling
Subs not used: Silva, Mahrez, Joao Cancelo, Otamendi, Carson, Foden
Goals: Bernardo Silva 78
Booked: Rodri 65
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Referee: Michael Oliver
Season at a glance
Even so, it still required one of those sliding doors VAR situations to give Liverpool the advantage. What might have been a penalty at one end turned into a goal at the other. On another day, that might not be the case. Thank heavens that with VAR there are no more random, subjective calls and problematic grey areas.
Manchester City thought that Trent Alexander-Arnold handled the ball from Kevin De Bruyne’s deflected cross, which he probably did. There is a question about whether Bernardo Silva handled it first, although the officials did not seem interested in that.
Nor, however, were they interested in what Alexander-Arnold did. You know when trains get cancelled because it’s the wrong kind of snow? Well, handball is a little like that now. This was the wrong kind of handball. So referee Michael Oliver waved it away and, metaphorically, so did the little man in front of a television screen somewhere near Heathrow.
And Liverpool tore up the other end and scored 22 seconds later.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates his side taking an early two-goal lead in what was a crucial top-of-the-table clash
Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold looks bemused as he looks at Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling after a tussle by the byline
City captain Fernandinho apologises to Liverpool goalscorer Fabinho after a late tackle towards the end of the first-half
There was cause for concern later in the first period when Salah went down with a knock, but he recovered and continued
VAR cannot be blamed for that obviously. It cannot be blamed for Ilkay Gundogan’s poor clearance, or for not replacing Vincent Kompany and keeping Claudio Bravo as number two goalkeeper, or any of the other minor judgement calls that will have been some factor in losing.
Gundogan cleared weakly to Fabinho and his shot from 25 yards flew past Bravo, the 22nd goal he has conceded from 41 shots. Having dominated to that point it was the most dispiriting start for City.
Worse followed. There were 13 minutes gone when Liverpool went two clear – although this was the encapsulation of all that is great about Klopp’s team. The initiative, the counter-attacking pace, the precision, the finishing, it was all there. Alexander-Arnold brought the ball out from the right and hit a stunning crossfield pass to Andrew Robertson on the left.
His ball into the centre was equally precise and met by Mohamed Salah at the far post, his stooping header leaving Bravo powerless.
City were stunned and it took them some time to recover. Not until the 29th minute when Angelino played a lovely one-two with De Bruyne and skimmed the outside of the far post did they truly threaten Liverpool’s goal. In the 42nd minute, De Bruyne found Sergio Aguero who could have done better one on one, but steered his shot wide. Perhaps had City scored either of those chances it might have produced a different outcome.
Instead, first blood after half-time went to Liverpool, and that was City done.
Roberto Firmino’s shoots with his left foot in the first-half, as City defender Kyle Walker attempts to block the forward’s shot
Henderson was substituted in the second-half, and he handed over the captain’s armband to his replacement, James Milner
It was another cross from wide that did it, but not from either of the usual aspects. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson may have more assists in a year than any full-backs in the modern era, but this was a beauty from Jordan Henderson.
He skinned Gundogan and picked out Sadio Mane at the far post. Should Bravo have done better preventing the ball reaching its target? Yes. Was he the reason City lost? As Guardiola predicted, no. He just didn’t really do anything to stop it happening. Mane scored with his header and Anfield began to really enjoy the afternoon. Not even a goal from Bernardo Silva with 11 minutes remaining could dampen that spirit.
Time was, Anfield would have got nervy at the thought of a comeback. Not anymore. They didn’t even flinch when Alexander-Arnold seemed to have got away with another one, a handball from a Raheem Sterling cross that infuriated Guardiola but was, again, waved away. City’s manager made a show of walking across the Anfield pitch to shake the hands of the officials at the end.
‘Thank you so much,’ he said to each in turn. ‘Thank you so much.’ Yet these were judgement calls, not colossal errors. It wasn’t like starting the season with three front-line centre-halves, for instance.
City boss Guardiola was visibly agitated on the sideline throughout Sunday’s match, as his side lost ground in the title race
Sergio Aguero somehow didn’t connect with a Kevin De Bruyne cross, and the Argentinean is still yet to score at Anfield
One little vignette summed up the distance between these teams right now. Midway through the first half, Bravo kicked a pass straight into touch. Guardiola applauded, hands over his head, vigorously, as one might to stop a kid feeling downhearted after a mistake on a Sunday morning.
A minute later, Alisson Becker played a quite lovely pass – to the same area across the same distance – which picked out Alexander-Arnold who went on a surging run of 50 yards or so, into the heart of City’s defence, finding Robert Firmino, who forced a save.
It is a matter of months since Liverpool could not catch City, no matter how hard they tried, but no longer.
Titles are not won in November, but this is Liverpool’s to lose now.
The scoreboard shows the scoreline at Anfield – Liverpool are now nine points clear of Manchester City in the Premier League
Reds manager Klopp fistpumps in the direction of the Kop stand after the game, knowing the importance of Sunday’s victory
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