Liverpool fire three past Man City as Lallana and co avenge cup loss
Holly Thackeray | March 2, 2016
Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City
- Lallana put Liverpool ahead in 34th minute
- Milner bagged the Reds’ second before the break
- Firmino added a third in the second-half
Liverpool blast cup woe behind them
The race for the Premier League top four spots took another twist, as Liverpool avenged their Sunday Capital Cup One final shootout defeat to Man City, by firing three past their cup conquerors.
Adam Lallana and James Milner goals sent the rampant Reds in with a half-time lead, with Roberto Firmino adding the final strike following the break, as City struggled to cope with the intensity of the encounter.
This result is a blow for the Sky Blues’ title chances, as they now sit 10 points behind leaders Leicester City. Meanwhile, the Merseysiders have put themselves firmly back in the race for the top four after West Ham United defeated Tottenham and Arsenal succumbed to Swansea City. It’s going to be a tight finish.
City thwarted in first-half
What a difference three days can make. Liverpool (10/1 to win the Europa League with Coral) and City began the show at Anfield as far too familiar foes, trading tepid jabs, with windy weather leading to predictably poor balls early on.
Yet, the Reds were eventually the ones to get into the rhythm, with right back Jon Flanagan typifying the team’s tenacious pressing, as he barged fellow former Anfield academy product Raheem Sterling off the ball a little too bullishly.
The resultant set-piece was one of the Citizens’ best chances in the first 45, as Fernandinho headed wide, which says it all about how Jurgen Klopp’s side contained their guests.
It took Man City 22 minutes to truly trouble their hosts, with David Silva popping up in pockets of space as only the Spaniard seems to know how. Pablo Zabaleta was the beneficiary of such smart scheming, but found his lashed potshot from wide parried back into play by Simon Mignolet.
Jesus Navas’ own low effort sailed past the posts, with City frustrated figures – compounded by a roundly booed Sterling pinging a poor effort towards the stars.
Lallana unlocks guests, Milner magic
With around 10 minutes until half-time, Lallana took the incentive for Liverpool, to much applause from Klopp, who cut a windswept figure on the sidelines.
Instrumental Milner seemed to be everywhere and fed a lovely ball to England teammate Lallana, who confidently swerved infield to take a low punt, which he placed far too easily into Joe Hart’s bottom-right corner.
Energetic Milner then almost found Firmino for a second, but the Brazilian failed to bring the ball down in the box as the Reds began to rally.
Another goal arrived not long after, however, as Milner turned from provider to protagonist and scorer against his old club. Lallana this time fed Firmino with a brilliant backheel flick, in a snappy and slick passage of play, leaving Milner to dispatch another deadly blow past Hart before the break.
Stifled Sterling was hooked at half-time as Manuel Pellegrini brought on Wilfried Bony, but it was Liverpool that began the second-half with more attacking intent, as Hart was forced to cut out Divock Origi’s cross before a Lallana burst proved dangerous.
Man City were not ready to call it a night, however, as some slick one-touch team passing almost put Silva in a profitable position, before Fernandinho was also hauled off for another attacking change in Kelechi Iheanacho.
Firmino fires in fantastic third
Sloppy defending soon stopped any idea of a City resurgence firmly in their tracks, as a poor Nicolas Otamendi pass out of defence gifted possession to the Reds in a dangerous area.
Lallana snapped up the loose ball before dinking a delightfully timed ball in the box to an onrushing Firmino, who fired a dipping finish past Hart, who then appeared to take exception to the Samba star’s ball-under-shirt celebration.
Still, Liverpool were in full party mode, confidently harrying their visitors, and sweeping the ball forward with venom. Alert Milner looked to make it four, if not for a tremendous one-handed stop by England number one Hart, who met his compatriot’s cracking strike stupendously.
This was followed by a flaring of tempers reminiscent of the previous weekend battle, as Navas saw yellow for a grapple with an overzealous Lallana.
The Citizens’ poor record at Anfield continues, then, but Liverpool will take much away from this battle ahead of their Europa League meeting with bitter rivals Manchester United. Klopp’s men may be inconsistent, but on their day they can also be lethal.