LIVERPOOL 1-0 MANCHESTER CITY: MATCH REVIEW
Liverpool pipped Manchester City at Anfield yesterday in yet another pulsating encounter between these two sides. Mohamed Salah’s breakaway goal in the 76th minute was the difference on the day. Here’s a comprehensive match review.
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° Lineup. There was a big call in attack as Jürgen Klopp opted for Harvey Elliott over Darwin Nunez who had scored in back to back games. This was to allow Mohamed Salah play through the middle alongside Roberto Firmino.
The Egyptian netted the fastest ever hat trick in Champions League history on Wednesday operating from that position, so you could see the reasoning behind the manager’s decision. Too often this season Salah has been too wide and peripheral.
In midfield, the skipper was dropped to the bench, with Fabinho and Thiago preferred in the double pivot. In the backline, Konaté’s knock meant Milner came in at right back whilst Gomez slotted alongside Van Dijk in the heart of defence.
° Bright start. The Reds knew they had to curb the slow start to games which has seen them concede the first goal in almost every match they’ve played this campaign. It was a fast and confident start yesterday, with the men in red looking to speed up play whenever they won back possession.
° An even first half. After the early surge, the visitors slowly grew into the encounter and slowed the play down with their heavy possession based style. Both sides had openings, with City shading it in terms of clear cut chances.
Erling Haaland twice went close with headers in the six yard box. He nodded the first over the crossbar before heading straight at Alisson the second time round. He also saw an attempted lob charged down by the Brazilian stopper.
° Evergreen James Milner. The 36 year old has not enjoyed the best time of things this campaign, and when he was named in the lineup (at right back no less), panic spread throughout the fanbase. In this fixture last season, Phil Foden ran rings around him and almost got him sent off.
It was a completely different story this time around as the ex-City man won almost every duel against the youngster. He relied on every bit of his two decade experience to shut down Foden who had been in decent goalscoring form heading into the clash.
James Milner won the most aeriel duels (3) for Liverpool against City yesterday. He won 3 out of his 4 ground duels (joint highest with Gomez among the defenders), making 4 clearances and 6 ball recoveries.
° Reds sharpen up after the break. Klopp’s men came out for the second period and were immediately sharper. They should have taken the lead five minutes into the half when Firmino slipped Salah clean through on goal.
Ederson produced an incredible save to tip the Egyptian’s effort round the post. Jota was screaming for a pass but you can’t blame Mo going for goal when one on one with the goalkeeper.
° City disallowed goal. Three minutes later it seemed City had punished that miss by edging infront themselves. There was at least two fouls in the build up though, and sure enough the official on VAR duty advised Anthony Taylor to have a look at the monitor.
Haaland had pulled Fabinho to the turf before proceeding to kick the ball out of Alisson’s grasp for Foden to squeez it past Gomez on the goalline. The goal was rightly chalked off for the former infringement.
° End to end action. A minute after the disallowed goal, Jota should have opened the scoring when Salah found him unmarked at the backpost with a delightful cross. Diogo (who is usually deadly in the air) tried to be too precise and headed agonisingly over.
Had he managed to get it on target, he’d surely have scored. Haaland was next to threaten as he attempted to wrong-foot Alisson with a deceptive shot low to Ali’s right. The Brazilian got down swiftly to push it away with a firm hand. The game was stretched as both sides searched for the opening goal.
° Triple substitution. After 72 minutes of action, Klopp chanced his arm with a triple substitution. Off went Fabinho, Elliott and Firmino, for Henderson, Carvalho and Darwin respectively. Bobby endured a queit-ish game whilst Fabinho was protected due to being on a booking.
Harvey on the other hand was tiring after putting in an impressively disciplined performance on the right flank to help Milner deal with Foden. He showed maturity beyond his years to mix it with the very best the league has to offer.
° Salah sends Anfield wild. A poor De Bruyne free kick was gathered by Alisson and the goalkeeper didn’t hang about. He spotted Salah making a run into the City half and found the 30 year old with an exquisite long ball over the top.
Mo spun Cancelo with ease and bared down on goal. He wasn’t going to miss this time, clipping his effort past Ederson and into the back of the net. Mo was electric throughout and seems to have been revitalised by the shift to the middle.
° Crucial Van Dijk intervention. Heading into the final ten minutes of this frantic matchup, City sought to strike back and looked set to do so when Cancelo clipped a precise cross into the six yard box for Haaland to attack.
Virgil Van Dijk had tracked the Norwegian’s run all the way though, and provided the interception by stooping low to head over his own goal. It was an outstanding piece of defending that underlined the passion which the entire team showcased.
Alongside the big man, Gomez looked back to his best as he helped keep the door shut in the face of the most potent attack in Europe. The 25 year old was exceptional as he reprised the title winning partnership with Van Dijk at the back.
Yesterday was the 38th Premier League game Liverpool have started with Gomez and Van Dijk at centre back. This was the 19th clean sheet in that run.
° Klopp sent off. Jürgen went apoplectic on the touchline when the clearest of fouls on Salah was not penalised. Bernardo Silva literally hanged off Mo’s shirt but that’s acceptable now apparently. Klopp is set for a touchline ban but these officials will get to officiate the next game.
° Darwin hit and miss. The 23 year old was a constant threat in the closing stages and could have netted a hat trick. He stretched the play well and caused Akanji all sorts of problems. His finishing and decision making let him down unfortunately.
He should have squared to Salah in a three on one breakaway not long after he had curled one wide with teammates in support. He once again went for goal and saw his shot charged down. He was unlucky to see his cross on another counter just evade Trent at the backpost.
There’s no excusing his miss deep into injury time though. Jota sent him scampering through on goal at great personal cost, but Darwin made a hash of an attempted lob over Ederson. He could and should have sealed the game. Luckily for him, the team saw out the victory.
° Jota injury the only negative. Diogo had to be stretchered off deep into stoppage time with a serious looking calf injury. He will undergo scans in the coming days but the club fears he may be set to join Diaz on the sidelines for an extended spell which could see him miss the World Cup.
° Vital victory. It’s three huge points for the Reds, with the result backed up by a performance to match. Jürgen Klopp will be hoping this is finally the turning point of Liverpool’s season.
° What’s next? The Reds host David Moyes’ West Ham on Wednesday night and will be aiming to string together three consecutive victories for the very first time this campaign. It’s about time they put together a winning run to move up the table.
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