Review and Player Ratings from Anfield blow – Liverpool 1-0 Manchester City
Manchester City suffered their first loss in 22 matches after having a goal taken away by VAR and a single mental lapse in defence leading to the game-winning goal.
It was City's first away loss in the league since the start of last season.
Pep Guardiola elected to go with a lineup that was similar to the draw against Newcastle, and just like that match in August, the Premier League champions once again dropped points.
Ederson started in goal, with Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji as the centre-back pairing. Nathan Ake returned to left-back and Joao Cancelo played at his natural right-back spot. The midfield three consisted of Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne. And according to the team sheet, Erling Haaland started up front, with Phil Foden to his left and Bernardo Silva to his right.
Bernardo, however, rarely featured on the right wing. Instead, that role was held by Cancelo and De Bruyne.
The start of the match was incredibly cautious, with neither side allowing a clear chance on goal. It appeared as though City had some grasp of control, but the timing was just slightly off in the final third, with the Blues unable to get a shot on target for much of the first half.
Diogo Jota had two chances just after the 20-minute mark to break the deadlock, but the Portuguese international was unable to take advantage. His first effort was a header sent right back at Ederson, and his second was a shot from the edge of the box that he skied over.
It was after that first flurry of chances from Liverpool that City began to take full control of the match.
In the 30th minute, Foden played a cutback pass to Bernardo, who was making a late run, but his effort was off the mark. But it was a promising sight because it was the first time City were able to break through the Liverpool defence.
In the following 10 minutes, Haaland had three opportunities to take the lead but was unable to take advantage.
The first came in the 33rd minute; Gundogan led Haaland down the left side of the box through on goal. Alisson came off his line far too early, Haaland recognized the mistake but his chip attempt was under-hit and parried away by the goalkeeper.
Just two minutes later, the Norwegian had another chance when De Bruyne popped a ball over the Liverpool defence towards the 22-year-old. Haaland was able to get his head on it, but it was a difficult attempt and his effort flew over the bar.
And in the 39th minute, Haaland had his third chance to grab a goal when De Bruyne launched a cross nearly identical to his assist against Manchester United. It found Haaland at the edge of the six-yard box, but the header went straight into the hands of Alisson.
The first half came to a close with the game still at a deadlock, but with City beginning to look like the stronger side.
For how dreary the start of the first half was, the start of the second half was the opposite.
Liverpool nearly broke through in the 51st minute after a counterattack opportunity. Dias slipped during Liverpool’s build-up, which allowed Salah to run clean through on goal. Ederson came off his line and the Egyptian's low shot was narrowly saved.
However, the officials missed the save and awarded a goal kick.
In the next attack following the goal kick, De Bruyne played a ball that cut through the Liverpool defence to find Haaland through on goal. The Norwegian's foot and a diving Alisson got to the ball at the same time and there was a collision. The ball dislodged and fell to Foden’s feet at a tight angle. The 22-year-old’s shot deflected off of Gomez and went in to give City a 1-0 lead.
However, following the celebrations, there was a VAR check to see if there was a foul in the build-up. The replay showed that Haaland had pulled Fabinho down by his shirt, which gave City possession in the immediate lead-up for the goal. The review only lasted a few seconds, as referee Anthony Taylor awarded a foul instead of the goal.
After the VAR review, Liverpool had another big chance. Harvey Elliott carried the ball through midfield and attempted to find Jota cutting through, but the ball was cleared and found Salah at the edge of the box. The 30-year-old crossed it to Jota for a free header, but it was narrowly off the mark.
City’s last real opportunity to score came in the 64th minute at the tail end of the ridiculous start of the second half. Gundogan found Haaland at the top of the box, and his shot from the top of the box forced Alisson to make a diving save.
In the 72nd minute, Roberto Firmino was off for Darwin Nunez, Jordan Henderson came on for Fabinho and Fabio Carvalho for Elliott. It was originally reported that Salah would be making his way off, but Klopp had a change of heart.
It ended up being the right choice because just a few minutes later, Salah would score the winner.
City were awarded a free kick in the 75th minute due to Thiago fouling De Bruyne. The Belgian attempted a curling effort into the box, but it was caught by Alisson, who immediately launched a ball into the opposite half.
Salah and Cancelo were jostling for position, and just as the ball was about to land, City's #7 attempted to intercept. His timing was off and Salah spun past and once again found himself in a one-on-one with Ederson.
However, this time the Brazilian could not come up with a stop, as Salah struck to give Liverpool the lead and the win.
Tempers flared in the closing minutes after Salah and Bernardo had a coming together towards the sideline. Bernardo dragged Salah down by his shirt, which Taylor did not blow the whistle for and allowed play on. Following the non-call, Klopp was furious and began to run up and down the sideline, berating both the fourth official and the linesman.
Following his tirade, Taylor stopped the match and sent the German off.
Despite now being without their manager, Liverpool were able to hold on. While there were a few chances created, City were unable to get a shot on target for the remainder of the match.
Guardiola's men were slated to take on league leaders Arsenal in midweek, but that game has been postponed after fixture changes for the Gunners. City will get a rare midweek break as they return to the Etihad to take on Brighton next Saturday at 3 pm.
Man of the Match
It wouldn’t be one of the biggest matches of the season without a Herculean performance from Bernardo Silva. Once again he was everywhere on the pitch. On the team sheet, he was slated to play on the right wing, but he was rarely, if ever, on that end of the pitch. He played in his normal Liverpool role, essentially acting as a holding midfielder that would break the press and cause havoc on the defensive end. Wouldn’t have expected anything less.
Ederson - 7
Cancelo - 5.5
Akanji - 6.5
Dias - 7
Ake - 7
Rodri - 7
Kevin De Bruyne - 6.5
Gundogan - 6
Haaland - 6.5
Foden - 7.5
Subs: Julian Alvarez - N/A
Written by: @IVIeehan
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