City take on Liverpool tonight to try and claw back another three points in the race for the title, and our Match from the Past looks at the 1991 encounter .
The blues were enjoying life in the First Division, having gained promotion two seasons earlier and now looked to their third top flight season with optimism. Liverpool had finished second in the league the previous season, while City finished fifth in the league and the two teams met at Maine Road for City’s first home game of the season.
The blues had beaten Coventry City at Highfield Road on the opening day, but the Merseysiders would be more of a challenging opposition. The reds had spent heavily in the transfer market, and amongst their signings was Wales striker Dean Saunders, who had missed a penalty at Maine Road a few months earlier while playing for Derby.
A Packed Maine Road saw David White have an early effort saved by Bruce Grobelaar. From the resulting corner, Ian Brightwell’s half chance was cleared off the line as City looked to take the lead. Liverpool threatened in their usual manner but Tony Coton in the City goal was equal to anything the reds could throw at them.
In the 29th minute, Keith Curle’s ball forward found Niall Quinn who, under challenge from two Liverpool players, managed to put White clear on goal. The winger’s pace took him beyond the Liverpool defence and he fired across goal into the far corner to give City the lead. The winger also had a shot just wide of the post as City looked to put the game to bed following good work from Brightwell.
Liverpool rallied in the second half and Saunders played in Ray Houghton, but the Ireland striker’s shot was brilliantly tipped over by Coton.
On 64 minutes, the blues increased their lead. Coton’s long ball was flicked on by Quinn into the path of White. Again, the winger’s speed took him past the Liverpool defence and his left foot shot smashed into the underside of the crossbar and into the grateful hands of Grobelaar. After a few moments of debate between the referee and linesman, it was deemed to have crossed the line and City were 2-0 up. It was the correct decision and blues fans could hardly believe it. So many successive losses to Liverpool were almost at an end and White almost had a hat-trick as his curling shot was tipped over by Grobelaar.
But Liverpool were handed a lifeline when future blue Steve McManaman’s diving header beat Coton to make it 2-1, and City fans were left biting their nails as a nervy finish approached. Liverpool were rejuvenated and pushed for an equaliser and had City penned into their own half. With eight minutes remaining, Saunders went down under the challenge of Andy Hill and the referee pointed to the spot. The welsh striker dusted himself off to take the penalty at the same end where he had his penalty saved by Niall Quinn last season after Coton had been sent off. This time, Saunders went for power but his penalty rattled off the crossbar and City cleared, and there was no chance the effort crossed the line!
The blues had a penalty appeal turned down when mark Brennan was brought down and Mike Marsh’s shot was parried by Coton as City looked for the killer goals and Liverpool looked for an equaliser. Adrian Heath’s shot was saved by Grobelaar and McManaman’s last minute effort was deemed offside but was saved by Coton anyway.
With blues nails almost gone, the referee blew for full time and City ended a run of successive defeats at home to Liverpool and took maximum points at the start of the season and put in into second place in the league.
Final score: Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool