Liverpool hammer Manchester City with inspired away performance

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Premier League, Etihad Stadium – Manchester City 1 (Aguero 44’) Liverpool 4 (Mangala 7’, Coutinho 23’, Firmino 32’, Skrtel 81’)

Liverpool ran riot in their best display under new manager Jurgen Klopp to beat Manchester City 4-1.

The visitors exploded out of the blocks and were all over City in the first half, displaying the pressing-game that their manager is so famous for.

The first goal came when Phillippe Coutinho robbed the ball off Bacary Sagnaand played the excellent Firmino in down the left. His cross was drilled into the danger area, but Eliaquim Mangala won’t want to watch the goal again after he failed to sort out his feet and deflected the ball beyond his own goalkeeper.

The visitors latched on to their lead and built on it, taking advantage of having an extra man in midfield to stifle City’s central two and counter time and again. Coutinho made it two when he was picked out by a delightful Firmino cross on one such counter, and the striker got the goal that his performance deserved on 32 minutes to make it 3-0, finishing off a silky passing move that featured an outrageous Emre Can back-heel.

Just when it looked like the game was dead and buried, up popped Sergio Aguero to curl home a brilliant finish to make it 3-1 at the break and give City a glimmer of hope.

A tactical reshuffle at the break saw Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas hauled off by City, but even though it briefly looked like making an impact there was too much for the hosts to do.

Coutinho had a goal ruled out for offside, Firmino was denied one-on-one byJoe Hart and substitute Christian Benteke also saw a shot saved by the City stopper. But Martin Skrtel sealed the win with a thunderbolt from the edge of the area with less than ten minutes left on the clock.

The win takes Klopp’s men to ninth in the Premier League, while City surrender top spot to Leicester City and also fall behind neighboursManchester United.

Raheem Sterling

KEY EVENTS

7’ – GOAL! – Coutinho nicks the ball in midfield and feeds in Firminho. The Brazilian squares and all Mangala can do is divert the ball beyond his own goalkeeper to put Liverpool ahead. 1-0.

23’ – GOAL! – Coutinho makes it 2-0 to Liverpool after a lightning counter-attack catches City short at the back. It’s a lovely pass from Firmino to pick out his fellow Brazilian and Coutinho tucks home through the legs of Joe Hart. 2-0.

32’ – GOAL! – Firminho makes it 3-0 with a ridiculously good team goal. Liverpool play it around nicely in the corner before a brilliant Can back-heel opens up the City defence and Coutinho tees up his team-mate for the finish. 3-0.

34’ – CHANCE – Liverpool are in again but this time Hart denies Firmino one-on-one. City are all over the place!

44’ – GOAL! – Sergio Aguero pulls one back for City with a terrific finish from outside the box.

46’ – SUBS – Pellegrini has corrected his initial selection error, but is it too late? Fernandinho replaces Navas… and Toure is also hauled off, with Delph coming on.

60’ – SAVE – Firmino very nearly puts the game to bed, but is denied one-on-one by Hart, who stretches out a leg and deflects the ball over the bar.

63’ – OFFSIDE – Coutinho thinks he’s wrapped it up as he rounds Hart and tucks home into an empty net, but the flag is up. That was the right call from the assistant, but brilliant again by Liverpool.

80’ – SAVE – Benteke bursts clear on the break, holds off the last man and fires in a shot, but he made the angle difficult for himself and Hart makes a good save to keep City in it.

82’ – GOAL! – Skrtel makes it 4-1 to Liverpool with a thunderous strike! A corner is fired in towards the centre-back on the edge of the box, and he latches on to the second ball to fire home a sizzling strike that was past Hart before he even saw it. 4-1.

KEY STATS

This game saw Man City concede three goals in the first half of a competitive game at the Etihad Stadium for just the second time (2-3 v Man Utd in the FA Cup in Jan 2012, the other).

Eliaquim Mangala’s own goal was the first one City have conceded at home in the Premier League since Pablo Zabaleta scored one in August 2014, also against Liverpool.

Philippe Coutinho has scored more goals versus Man City than any other Premier League team (4).

Martin Skrtel has scored four goals against Manchester City in the Premier League, more than against any other side.

Sergio Aguero became the top-scoring South American player in Premier League history (85 goals).

This is only the second time that Man City have conceded four goals in a competitive game at the Etihad (Man City 2-4 Aston Villa in the League Cup in September 2012 the other).

It’s the first time they’ve conceded four at home in the Premier League since February 2003 to Arsenal, when they played at Maine Road, losing 5-1 that day.

Liverpool have scored as many goals in their last two away Premier League games (7) as they managed in their 11 before that.

TALKING POINT

What was Pellegrini thinking? City’s most disappointing performances against high-calibre opposition have always come when they line up with a midfield two in an overly attacking formation. Tonight was the obvious time to play three in the middle, particularly with Wilfried Bony and David Silva out injured, but Pellegrini went open and attacking… and paid the price. Liverpool’s pressing game and dominance in midfield put them in on the City defence time and again, and in truth this could have been worse for City.

PLAYER RATINGS

Manchester City: Hart 7, Sagna 6, Demichelis 6, Mangala 5, Kolarov 5, Toure 4, Fernando 5, Navas 4, Sterling 7, De Bruyne 5, Aguero 7. Subs: Fernandinho 6, Delph 6, Iheanacho 5.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Milner, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Ibe 6, Benteke 6, Toure 6.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Firmino (Liverpool): The Brazilian was brilliant all evening, linking up superbly with Coutinho and getting in behind the City defence almost at will. It was his run and cross that forced the opening own-goal and his sumptuous delivery also teed up Coutinho for the second. The finish for his goal wasn’t the trickiest, but he had chances to add to his tally and his only regret will be that he didn’t bag a hat-trick (which he could easily have done were it not for Hart). Has Klopp found his star man? It certainly looks that way.

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