Liverpool sink four to knock Man City off Premier League perch
Holly Thackeray | November 21, 2015
Manchester City 1-4 Liverpool
- Eliaquim Mangala’s own-goal put Reds ahead in under seven minutes
- Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino completed first-half scoring for Liverpool
- Sergio Aguero snatched one back for Man City before the break
- Martin Skrtel super strike sealed victory for Merseysiders
- City fall from first to third in Premier League
Liverpool find scoring touch with fantastic four
Having begun the day sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League table, Manchester City lost their spot at the summit to Jamie Vardy-inspired Leicester City, after being beaten 4-1 by an energetic Liverpool in a five-goal thriller.
City’s sloppy defending saw the hosts collapse in the first-half, with the Reds’ three goals looking to have finished their foes off. Sergio Aguero’s sublime finish gave the Sky Blues brief hope of a comeback, before a fourth Reds goal on the board for condemned Man City to drop from first to third place in the Premier League table.
The out-of-sorts Citizens must now recover quickly from this setback before facing giants Juventus midweek in the Champions League. Coral, meanwhile, have shortened Liverpool’s odds for a top four finish to 7/5.
Brazilian brilliance a reward for canny Klopp
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to keep traditional centre forwards by trade Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge on the bench, instead fielding a fluid front three featuring Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana, initially seemed puzzling against a City side missing dominant skipper and defender Vincent Kompany.
Yet, the German tactician’s choice proved prudent within the opening exchanges, as Manuel Pellegrini’s men struggled to keep pace with the slick interplay on show.
It was a Mangala mistake which cost the Etihad hosts early on, after right back Bacary Sagna had his pocket picked by an eager Coutinho.
The Samba star found fleet-footed compatriot Firmino and the forward’s return was cut out by a calamitous Mangala, surprisingly selected ahead of a stronger Nicolas Otamendi, whose interception swept straight past Joe Hart and into City’s own net.
A first for ferocious Firmino
It wasn’t long before Klopp’s playful Brazilian pair bamboozled the Sky Blues’ exposed centre halves again, with Firmino this time capturing the ball himself and driving a quick, ruthless counter from deep midfield. The former Hoffenheim star dragged City’s defence along for the ride before sweeping a low ball across the box for Coutinho to slot home simply.
Not one to be left out, Firmino, clearly instilled with confidence by Klopp, was then the recipient of more majestic link-up play. A classy Emre Can backheel, read and picked out perfectly by playmaker Coutinho, fed Firmino for an easy finish to rack-up his first goal in red and Liverpool’s third within 31 minutes.
The South American had struggled since arriving this summer, but now looks much more his threatening former self, and could have converted another two golden chances to kill the game before the break, if not for the heroics of Joe Hart.
Sergio Aguero provides stylish City response
Hosts Man City were lucky not to be more than 3-0 down at half-time, with Kevin De Bruyne’s rampaging runs and un-met crosses the most dangerous aspect of their early toothless attacking display.
If anyone could inspire a revival it was always going to be recently returned Sergio Aguero, who usually takes time to click into gear while regaining match fitness. The Argentina international, isolated for most of the first 45 minutes, eventually took matters into his own hands with a dash of magic before the break, dancing through a naive Reds rearguard to curl home a powerful strike.
Second-half substitutes Fabian Delph and Fernandinho added extra engine room exuberance, almost immediately restricting rivals the Reds’ space to operate.
As the Citizens strove for a second, Liverpool found themselves ominously pegged back into their own half, with the Reds just looking as though they had run out of steam. Though Firmino still found himself one-on-one with Hart, but failed to lift his attempt over the Englishman’s outstretched leg.
Old boys make errors
Raheem Sterling and James Milner swapped sides this summer but both disappointed as they faced their former clubs wearing new colours.
Hard-grafting Milner’s uncharacteristically sloppy back pass to a surprised Simon Mignolet was pounced upon by an astute Sterling, though the Anfield academy product dithered in possession, scuppering an opportunity to score before passing responsibility to Aguero, who found his shot blocked.
Yet Klopp soon had bigger concerns, as the coach was forced to shuffle his cards and a successful formula by replacing injured Coutinho with young-gun Jordan Ibe, though in a boost for the Merseyside men, their star Brazilian walked off unaided.
Skrtel surprise sinks City
Bullish Benteke’s late substitution turned thoughts any Man City revival emphatically on its head, as the Belgian striker burst through the Mancunian’s shambolic defence within minutes of arriving on the pitch.
Brought on to provide power at set-pieces, Benteke did not disappoint, knocking down a corner for defender Martin Skrtel, whose vicious volley into the top right corner quashed City’s rebellion.