Emotions at an all-time high, the Premier League title hanging in the balance and two of the top teams in the league facing off; this game had all the makings of a classic. Liverpool and City came into this game: win and you have one hand firmly on the trophy, lose and you’ll have a tough hill to climb.
Liverpool, as they always do at Anfield, started the game quick and full of intent. Just six minutes into the game they got on the scoreboard. Raheem Sterling dribbled into the box, dangled the ball in front of City’s defense, and as Vinny and Joe went one way, Sterling went the other and hit an open net to give Liverpool the early lead. That goal was a dream start for Liverpool as they were able to use the emotions of the day and crowd to their advantage. At that point, it was game on for the Reds. City looked frazzled and was unable to get any meaningful possession throughout the early part of the first half. Every time City was able to push men up in attack, Liverpool looked to counter, where they are always dangerous. But, as the half pushed on City settled into the game and handled the midfield pressure from Liverpool much more effectively. As City looked certain to be the next to score, Liverpool doubled their lead from the corner as Coutinho found Martin Skrtel who headed the ball home.
My man of the match will go to James Milner whose work ethic and pace, as soon as he subbed on, was a menace to Liverpool’s back four. Milner was found making a run in the box by Zabaleta, and his low ball across the box was deflected home by David Silva. Notably, Silva’s whose has been top class of late. The first goal was just what the doctor ordered for City, as Liverpool looked shaken by the flip of the script by the sky blues. Silva continued his hot streak when Nasri found him cutting towards the end line. His cross was deflected by Glen Johnson and took a fortunate route into the back of the net. The game was back on and City looked like the side who, if it were to be, would win the match. The next chance for City came when Aguero made a beautiful turn away from Sekrtel and broke into the box. His pass was inches, maybe even centimeters, away from the foot of David Silva, whose deflection would have given City the lead.
When the match looked as if it were destined to be a draw an uncharacteristic mistake by Vinny gave Liverpool the chance to regain the lead. Coutinho did not waste the chance. A mishit clearance from the captain fell perfectly for Coutinho, who wrapped his boot around the ball and found the back of the net.
It will be hard to take moral victories from this match because of how important it was, but the comeback from City is something for one to admire. Liverpool have been devastating this season when up by two goals, but City pushed on and looked to win the game. Sadly in this match, it wasn't meant to be. One of the most unfortunate things about that late goal, besides the fact it gave Liverpool the late lead and win, was how impressive our defense had been up to that point. After conceding the two goals in the first half, City’s defensive effort was fantastic; keeping Liverpool’s potent attack off the score sheet and giving City a chance to win.
For three guys who have gotten a lot of flak this season, sometimes deservedly so, Dzeko, Demichelis and Clichy played very well today. Dzeko may not have gotten a goal, but his attitude when in attack was spectacular. When City got the ball up to him, he did a good job to hold it up and find a teammate making a run. Demichelis, who has had his good games, and his absolute nightmare of games survived pretty well. Liverpool were only able to burn him once, after that he was immense when the Reds tried to break out. Clichy, who hasn't been too bad since his dreadful start to this campaign, looked back to his old self again, winning the ball back from the likes of Suarez and Sturridge, and getting involved in the attack for City.
All praise to Liverpool, who took another tough challenge in stride and found a way to get all three points against title rivals City. With all the emotional build to this game, it would have been easy for the Reds to lose focus on the task at hand. But, unlike in the past, they kept their attention on the game and gave their fans something to cheer about on such a somber occasion. Justice may be served, but the pain the friends and families of the 96 can never be healed.
Now, City need to just take care of business and let the chips fall where they may, one game at a time. The title has not been decided, but Liverpool is ever closer to their first title in 25 years with their toughest test against Chelsea remaining. Crazier things have happened, and “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings,” right?