Manchester City lost further ground on league leaders Liverpool as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Anfield. Goals from Fabinho, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane gave the Reds a 3-0 lead, while Bernardo Silva scored a consolation with ten minutes remaining.
City were not given much hope before match started, with Ederson ruled out earlier in the week to join David Silva, Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte on the injured list, however Rodri returned to the starting line-up. Liverpool have been in fine form so far this season, winning all but one of their league games and the match was hyped as being a title decider…in November!
Pep Guardiola said before the match that he was unconcerned by City’s poor record at Anfield, with the blues winning one match at the home of the leaders since 1983, and that solitary win cam in 2003, when Nicolas Anelka scored twice to give Kevin Keegan’s side victory.
But the blues came out of the blocks fast and pressed the Reds in their own half for the opening stages, but as usual, it was the home side who took the lead. A City attack ended with the ball hitting the arm of Trent Alexander-Arnold in the penalty area and, although it may have hit Silva on the arm on it’s way to hitting van Dijk, the referee showed no interest in stopping the match for handball on either and continued play, from which Liverpool scored.
Fernandinho’s weak clearance found Fabinho and the Brazilian fired a brilliant shot home after just six minutes. City appealed that the ball was handled in the build-up to the goal – you’ll recall City had a goal disallowed against Spurs for similar – but the goal was allowed to stand.
City continued to press, but the makeshift defence was put under pressure again and just seven minutes later, Liverpool threatened to run away with the win when Salah converted Andrew Robertson’s cross. The City defence were stretched and Robertson played a superb ball for the Egyptian to plant an excellent header past the despairing dive of Bravo. Although Salah may have looked offside, replays suggest John Stones was just about playing him onside. It’s really one for the ‘experts’ to analyse and dissect to their hearts content.
Despite being two goals down, City showed they would not give up without a fight. Raheem Sterling, who is still booed by the Liverpool supporters four years after leaving, missed a header and Sergio Aguero’s curling shot was save by Allison. Angelino’s deflected effort also hit the post as the blues threatened a comeback against their bogey side on the bogey ground, but could find no way through to goal.
Within six minutes of the second half, Claudio Bravo was beaten for a third time. The keeper had pulled off a great save towards the end of the first half, but a moment of hesitation on Jordan Henderson’s cross gave Mane that moment he needed to make the game safe.
City to their credit, plugged away and were still a threat to the Liverpool goal, particularly down the right where Sterling was desperate to prove a point against the fans that at one time idolised him. Aguero, who was out of sorts all afternoon, was replaced by Gabriel Jesus, and within seven minutes of his introduction, City pulled a goal back when the unmarked Silva swept home to give the blues hope.
City began to press Liverpool and had a second penalty appeal turned down when Sterling’s attempted cross again hit Alexander-Arnold in the penalty area, but for a second time the referee, and VAR, didn’t award the penalty, much to Guardiola’s amusement on the touchline, who then sarcastically applauded the referee at full-time.
It was a missed opportunity for City to close the gap and also move back up to 2nd in the table, after Chelsea and Leicester both won yesterday to leave the bleus fourth in the league. City’s annual defeat at Anfield may leave the blues 9 points behind the leaders, and many are already saying that this loss has already ended City’s title hopes. But City have been in similar situations and it would be wrong and extremely dangerous to write the blues off so early into the season.
Final Score: Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City