Report and highlights as Liverpool move nine points clear of fourth-placed Manchester City
Monday 11 November 2019 10:18, UK
Liverpool laid down a significant marker in their bid to win a first league title in 30 years by beating champions Manchester City 3-1 at Anfield on Renault Super Sunday.
The roof was lifted off Anfield as early as the sixth minute when Fabinho drilled the ball past Claudio Bravo from 30 yards, but the goal was shrouded in controversy as City thought they should have had a penalty moments earlier when the ball struck Trent Alexander-Arnold's arm in the penalty area.
VAR checked the incident, but the goal stood to bring another huge roar from the Anfield faithful.
It was not long before Anfield erupted again as Mohamed Salah headed home Andrew Robertson's brilliant cross in the 13th minute to double the hosts' advantage and they had a third goal six minutes after half-time, with Claudio Bravo failing to keep out Sadio Mane's header at the back post.
Bernardo Silva's low shot found the bottom corner 12 minutes from time, but it was too little too late for City, who now find themselves nine points behind Jurgen Klopp's side in fourth.
Liverpool have won 11 of their first 12 Premier League games this season and lead the table by eight points - only Manchester United in 1993/94 have had a bigger lead after 12 games of a Premier League season (nine points).
Liverpool, who surrendered a 10-point lead to City last season, head into the international break sitting pretty at the top of the table, but they will know the job of bringing the Premier League title to Anfield is far from done with 26 games still left to play.
Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (8), Van Dijk (8), Lovren (7), Robertson (8), Fabinho (9), Wijnaldum (7), Henderson (8), Salah (8), Firmino (7), Mane (8).
Subs: Milner (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (n/a), Keita (n/a).
Man City: Bravo (5), Walker (5), Stones (4), Fernandinho (5), Angelino (5), Rodri (5), Gundogan (5), Sterling (6), Bernardo Silva (6), De Bruyne (6), Aguero (5).
Subs: Jesus (6).
Man of the match: Fabinho
In what was a blistering start to the game, City were adamant they should have had a penalty when the ball deflected off Bernardo Silva before hitting Alexander-Arnold's hand in the penalty area.
However, play continued when the referee waved away City's appeals and, 22 seconds later, Fabinho's thunderous strike beat Bravo to give the hosts the lead after a VAR check.
Despite Liverpool's fast start, City had immediate chances to respond but Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero failed to convert Kevin De Bruyne's inviting free-kicks.
It proved costly as the hosts doubled their advantage seven minutes after their first. Alexander-Arnold started the attack with an inch-perfect cross-field pass to pick out fellow full-back Robertson, who in turn curled a beautiful cross into the path of Salah.
The Egyptian, who has now been directly involved in 52 goals in just 44 Premier League appearances at Anfield for Liverpool, made no mistake at the far post to send the home fans wild again.
City created opportunities as they looked for a way back into the game, but Alisson Becker denied Aguero before Angelino's shot was deflected onto the post.
Aguero then found himself one-on-one with Alisson after being released by De Bruyne, but the Argentine striker flashed a shot wide and striking another straight at the goalkeeper as City went into the interval 2-0 down.
City's problems mounted six minutes after the restart when Jordan Henderson's sublime cross picked out Mane at the far post, and the Senegal international squeezed the ball past Bravo at his near post for his seventh league goal of the season.
The visitors, who brought on Gabriel Jesus to replace Aguero, pulled a goal back through Bernardo Silva with 12 minutes remaining to give Guardiola's side a glimmer of hope.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp went with his tried-and-tested big-game line-up for the visit of Manchester City. That meant four changes from the Champions League win over Genk with Andy Robertson returning at left-back, Jordan Henderson coming back into midfield and Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane rejoining the forward line.
City made six changes as Claudio Bravo started in goal for the injured Ederson with three of the back four from Wednesday's Champions League draw against Atalanta altered. John Stones was picked to partner Fernandinho in the centre of defence with Kyle Walker and Angelino, who was making only his second Premier League start. Rodrigo came into midfield with Sergio Aguero preferred up front to Gabriel Jesus.
City thought they should have had a penalty when Sterling's cross hit Alexander-Arnold's arm, but again the referee waved away the claims to leave Guardiola furious on the touchline.
City continued to pin back Liverpool in the final stages as they desperately searched for a miraculous comeback, but Klopp's men saw the game out to strengthen their position at the top of the table.
Should Liverpool's first goal have been chalked off for a penalty at the other end because of handball by Alexander-Arnold?
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Sky Sports' Gary Neville: "I'm going for the man who scored the first goal, Fabinho. It was a great goal and he's a calming influence for Liverpool in the centre of midfield."
Fabinho’s goal was Liverpool’s ninth from outside the box in all competitions this season – more than any other Premier League side.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "Maturity is very important but for the rest of the season, it depends who is available and who is fit. I have no idea if I've ever had a nine-point lead, it has never been nine points over City, especially after a game against them so it is completely new.
"Each point we have now, we need to go through the most intense period ever for us. You see how Chelsea and Leicester are performing, if we lose today, it is then about five points? After the start we had, five points is nothing. We have to play them again and we don't care about the table or whatever, we just try to do the right things in the specific games and if we can do that, then we are good but we need the boys for that and we have to hope they stay fit."
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: "What happened today we showed why we are champions, I am so proud of my team, more than ever. We can be proud of how we played against the strongest team in Europe.
"Ask to the referees, don't ask me. Ask to Mike Riley and the guys in VAR. I would like to talk about our performance, it was so good. It was one of the best performances we have played. We played like back-to-back champions. We cannot deny how good Liverpool are but the way we played, the personality, it was good.
"It was quite similar to the Champions League game. It was an incredible situations in that game too but the performance today was so good. Always we try, never give up that is why we are back-to-back champions. Always fight until the end. It is important to grow as a club and as a team. It was an honour for both team to show the Premier League to spectators this type of game."
Liverpool and Manchester City resume their domestic campaigns after the international break on November 23, with the Reds travelling to Crystal Palace at 3pm before champions City host Chelsea on Saturday Night Football at 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm.