Little consolation for dethroned Man City as they thrash Liverpool
Pep Guardiola’s side move within 20 points of new champions thanks to Etihad romp
Manchester City celebrate Kevin De Bruyne’s opener against Liverpool. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA
Manchester City 4 Liverpool 0
Manchester City, smarting from losing their title, unleashed their frustration on the side who took it from them and they must wonder how Jürgen Klopp’s side had arrived 23 points ahead of them.
Pep Guardiola’s stance is that his side must prove itself each time it takes the field and his players walked the manager’s talk on a night when the still reigning European champions were given a schooling.
Raheem Sterling was his team’s star turn scoring in each half while also creating the opener in what augurs nicely for City’s upcoming Champions League campaign.
A smattering of City fans had greeted Liverpool’s coach with some choice invective ahead of a guard of honour from the team dethroned as champions by their visitors.
Guardiola’s XI was strong - Ilkay Gündogan preferred over David or Bernardo Silva to partner Kevin De Bruyne in midfield. Klopp’s side was the same as trounced Crystal Palace 4-0 last time out, as Liverpool bid to claim the next three points in the quest to beat City’s 100-point record, set in the title triumph of two years ago.
The contest had a sharpness. Sterling and Gabriel Jesus burst in behind Liverpool, while Sadio Mané was released by a crossfield Trent Alexander-Arnold ball. De Bruyne next fed Phil Foden, saw the latter foiled by Andrew Robertson, and when the ball came to the Belgian his shot crashed off the left-back.
Moments later De Bruyne went down when challenged by Fabinho and Liverpool broke quick. The move ended with Alexander-Arnold’s cross deserving better than a fluffed Mané header. The spectacle deserved a filled stadium to witness it. Next up Benjamin Mendy was allowed space to swing in one of his curving deliveries: Liverpool’s rearguard were unable to block the ball, and breathed relief when Foden just failed to connect.
Both sides’ ability to press is akin to a strangle of opponents and when Rodri moved forward only to be smothered by Georgino Wijnaldum on halfway here was a prime illustration. Now, Liverpool’s silky ability to create was displayed. Roberto Firmino’s no-look pass to Mohamed Salah was as admirable as the Egyptian’s glide across the edge of the D and the effort that beat Ederson but not the left post. The ball ricocheted to Mané but - again - he was clumsy, and City escaped.
What sounded like a volley of fireworks close to the stadium had punctuated the action and soon the game was marked by an opening goal. This was all about Sterling’s strength as he twisted and turned, forcing Joe Gomez into conceding a penalty. De Bruyne smashed this home and Liverpool were behind.
They were soon staring at a 2-0 deficit. This was a strike of beauty from City, one of those hypnotic moves that removes their opposition as any kind of a factor. Mendy located Gündogan and he pinged the ball on to Jesus, whose pass to Foden found the wide-man on the right. The No 47 skated forward and played Sterling in who, after a first touch that left Gomez stranded, fired in for a 22nd in City colours this term.
It also broke Sterling’s duck against his former club and next came a City third as impressive. Rodri fed Foden and as Robertson lunged ball was slipped to De Bruyne whose instant return had the 20-year-old in: his right-foot finish gave Alisson no chance.
Klopp changed the beleaguered Gomez for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at half-time, moving Fabinho to centre-back.
Their 3-0 advantage meant City were surely conscious that Liverpool would come at them and in the hope of grabbing the goal that would give them a glimmer of a comeback. Instead, the reverse occurred: Jesus had a chance to kill the visitors off when Alexander-Arnold took a throw-in straight to him yet while the No 9 brought the ball down neatly he then spooned the attempt.
Liverpool were in disarray. Foden released Sterling and as the red shirts back-pedalled his effort needed a Fabinho block. Then, as Klopp watched on helpless, Gündogan’s vision allowed him to spy De Bruyne on the right. He looked up, saw Foden’s run and the latter’s shot this time required Virgil van Dijk to clear.
Liverpool’s only chance appeared to be City slackening off. So it was that Mané was allowed through but he stepped over Jordan Henderson’s pass. Then Kyle Walker was booked for a foul on Mané but Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick was wide.
Liverpool were rallying as would be expected yet now came the sucker punch from the irresistible Sterling. A sustained period of pressure from Klopp’s men was soaked up, City moved upfield, and the No 7’s shot, which was heading wide, was inadvertently touched in by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. - Guardian