Liverpool could not keep up with Manchester City, Jürgen Klopp had claimed. And after 38 games this season, he could be right as the gap is still 10 points. But over 90 feverish, fantastic minutes, Liverpool ended the champions’ unbeaten start and served as a reminder of why Anfield remains Pep Guardiola’s bogeyman and Klopp his toughest opponent.
Liverpool have exited the title race early this season, with Klopp bowed out early on in a famous win that was sent off for yelling in linesman Gary Beswick’s ear. His disciplinary record may have deteriorated, but on the pitch he improved an already notable statistic. He took his unrivaled tally of wins against Guardiola to 12 and the context made this one of the greatest.
The Reds went from their worst start to a season under him to their best since April with a brilliant, blistering performance. Regardless of the financial disparity between them and City, which Klopp referred to on Friday, they have shown they can beat them on the pitch. There was no inferiority complex where it mattered most.
If Liverpool had been a shadow of themselves this season, the same was true of Mohamed Salah. But the defining rivalry in the Premier League in recent years spurred the Footballer of the Year back to a state of high-speed dominance.
Erling Haaland appears destined to succeed him as the Golden Boot winner but Salah was the goalscorer in their first Premier League clash. After five games without a goal, he scored one that established a four-point lead at the top of the league: but for Arsenal, not Liverpool or City.
Yet everything else felt like a subplot in one day, highlighting why the Guardiola-Klopp rivalry can be so compelling. It was wild in pace, bold in ambition and hot in temper.
Perhaps Thiago Alcantara should have been sent off for upending Rodri; Bernardo Silva’s challenge to Salah, which so angered Klopp, was hardly perfectly timed either, and the controversy extended to a disallowed goal which Guardiola may believe continues his tradition of misfortune at Anfield. But it was fast and furious, fabulous entertainment in a chaotic epic.
The style of the winner was exceptional too, with a goal set up by the goalkeeper. Alisson already has one assist against Manchester United to his credit. He added one against Man City with a long pass that was spot on in its accuracy, knocking out most players on the pitch and finding Salah. Not Joao Cancelo, who should have stopped the Egyptian, but he slashed away and shot past Ederson.
City may have been given false hopes minutes earlier when Klopp made a treble and Salah’s number went up. It turned out to be a mistake: he stuck with it and struck. Instead, two changes brought Darwin Nunez and a fit Trent Alexander-Arnold, each of whom should have doubled the lead at death.
Liverpool had regained their intensity and identity and made a quick start which they have lacked too often this season and which has at times blown City in the past. But not here: while Diogo Jota and Andy Robertson could have overcome the blockade, it was goalless at the break and City were the first to put the ball in the net.
Briefly, Phil Foden appeared to have celebrated his new five-year deal with the opener, the Mancunian firing home after Haaland challenged Alisson and the goalkeeper feeling like he had the ball in his hands. After referee Anthony Taylor went to the monitor, there was a foul: not on Alisson but on Fabinho when Haaland was bundled into him seconds earlier.
The city manager’s reaction seems destined to become a meme. It wasn’t the first time Guardiola had gestured theatrically and screamed ineffectively on the Anfield touchline as he was barracked. This time, oddly enough, he seemed to be urging her to raise her voice.
It came in amazing minutes early in the second half, pinched by two moments that saw Liverpool inches from taking the lead. Klopp had learned the lessons of Salah’s hat-trick at Rangers and used him as a striker, demoting Nunez and sparing him comparisons to Haaland.
And even before he scored, Salah was outstanding. A few minutes before Foden’s unrecognized goal, he was thwarted by a sensational save from Ederson, who tipped the ball wide. Salah had run wide from Roberto Firmino and the slightest touch meant the ball deflected to the right of the post from a City perspective. A few minutes later he crossed with easy skill and Jota headed against the outside of the post.
Klopp’s choices were confirmed but playing 4-2-3-1, dropping Jordan Henderson and picking Harvey Elliott was brave. Necessary meant James Milner faced Foden, but the veteran proved brave. Joe Gomez was great and was named player of the game. At his side, Virgil van Dijk returned to form, a behemoth who edged out the best.
But as well as everyone has played, keeping Haaland completely still feels impossible. Instead, he still had chances when Liverpool joined Bournemouth in a select tie to prevent him from scoring points in the Premier League. Alisson held up a Haaland chip as the giant tried the subtle approach. Kevin de Bruyne first hooked a ball in his path, then delivered a curled cross. The first was aimed at Alisson, the second at Alisson. After the break, the Brazilian scraped a low shot.
It seemed to be his most significant contribution until the goalkeeper released Salah, he sprinted away and Liverpool weren’t just competing with City. They beat her.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/liverpool-man-city-result-final-score-b2203902.html Result Liverpool vs. Man City: Full Time Score, Goals, Highlights and Premier League Match Report