Thrill a minute as Liverpool end Man City’s unbeaten run
Anfield clash sees Pep Guardiola’s side score two late goals after trailing 4-1
Sadio Mane celebrates with Liverpool team-mate Andy Robertson after scoring their third goal during the Premier League match against Manchester City at Anfield. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Liverpool 4 Manchester City 3
And, finally, there is a glimmer of hope for the teams desperately clinging to Manchester City’s coat-tails. Only a tiny glimmer, maybe, and nobody should really imagine it will change too much when it comes to the destination of the championship trophy.
Yet it has been 284 days since Pep Guardiola’s team last experienced a defeat in the Premier League. The run has stretched for 30 games and at least now the other teams towards the top of the table have been reminded that the champions-in-waiting can be beaten after all.
It has certainly been a long time since City have looked this vulnerable and in that nine-minute blitz during the second half, when Liverpool rattled in three goals, it was remarkable to see the way the best team in the country disintegrated. More fool us, perhaps, for thinking that City had eradicated the shortcomings that troubled Guardiola in his first year at the club.
Liverpool? On this evidence, Jürgen Klopp must be pained that there is still a 15-point gap to the team they have just scorched.
This was Liverpool’s first game since Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona and it was some response from Klopp’s players. Defensively they are still far too accident-prone, Loris Karius’s goalkeeping can make him a danger to his own team and, astonishingly, Liverpool came perilously close to throwing away a 4-1 lead from the 83rd-minute onwards.
Sergio Agüero has never scored at Anfield and, four minutes into stoppage-time, his stooping header flashed into the side netting when he had the chance to complete an almost implausible feat of escapology.
Guardiola can think back to that moment, at 1-1, when Nicolás Otamendi headed against the crossbar from a corner but the bottom line is that Liverpool were the better side and it must have startled City’s manager to see the way his team were thrown out of their stride against a side that played a high line, chased them down and refused to be cowed.
It was City’s first defeat of the season and, with the Champions League to resume next month, a lesson for all of Europe’s top clubs – albeit with the rider that Guardiola’s team still managed to score three times.
Liverpool certainly looked vulnerable at the back and Leroy Sané’s goal, beating Karius at the near post, was just the latest reminder that Liverpool will continue to be held back until they have a goalkeeper who is more suitable for a club of their ambitions.
Yet City were even worse at the back and no team can expect to defend this generously and get away with it. The way John Stones was outmuscled by Firmino for Liverpool’s second goal was a case in point. Mané’s goal was a brilliant left-foot finish but that one originated from Otamendi losing the ball inside his own half and when Salah clipped the ball into an exposed net for Liverpool’s net it was because Ederson had hared out of his penalty area to kick the ball straight to him.
The only problem for Liverpool at 4-1 was that the game still had more than 20 minutes to go. Bernardo Silva, one of City’s substitutes, prodded in his team’s second goal and when Ilkay Gündogan added another two minutes into stoppage time it guaranteed a nerve-shredding finale.
Yet the final result was a fair one. Liverpool had dominated large parts of the match after the moment, nine minutes in, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain eased unchallenged through the City midfield and took his shot early, thumping the ball past Ederson with a low right-foot drive into the bottom corner.
Karius should certainly have done better with the shot from Sané and, not for the first time, it was strange that Klopp select him at the expense of Simon Mignolet for such a key assignment.
That would have mattered a lot more, however, if City had been able to add a dramatic late twist. Agüero’s header flashed wide and, for the first time since last April, City were reminded what it was like to finish a league game as the losing side. – Guardian service