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    Liverpool 2-1 Manchester City

    Another cracker from Coutinho seals a huge win for Liverpool and makes it a miserable week for Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini.

    A stunning strike from Philippe Coutinho fifteen minutes from time earned Liverpool a much deserved victory against champions Manchester City. A win that keeps Liverpool well in the hunt for a top four finish but also puts a huge dent in City’s bid to retain their title.

    Jordan Henderson fired the Reds into an early first half lead with a stunning curling effort but City responded mid-way through the first half when Edin Dzeko finished a great City move. But it was the home side who had the better of the second half and got their noses in front in the 75th minute thanks to another wonder goal from Philippe Coutinho. City pushed for a late equaliser but to no avail as Liverpool held on to secure three precious points.

    The win for Liverpool sees them move above Southampton into fifth and to within two points of Manchester United in fourth. Despite their defeat to Besiktas in the Europa League, the Reds have been in fantastic form in the league and are unbeaten since mid-December.
    Defeat for Manchester City caps off a truly miserable week for them, after being blown away by Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday evening and leaves them five points behind league leaders Chelsea having played a game more.

    Both teams came into the clash on the back of disappointment in Europe mid-week and both managers were keen to see an instant response from their players. And the opening exchanges certainly didn’t disappoint, played at a frantic pace similar to that of the classic encounter between the two sides at Anfield last season.

    Liverpool took the lead in the 11th minute when Philippe Coutinho pounced on a mistake from City captain Vincent Kompany, pinching the ball ahead of the Belgian before finding Raheem Sterling in-field. Sterling found stand-in skipper Jordan Henderson on the left who cut inside and hit a stunning curling effort into the top corner from all of 25 yards.

    City almost hit back immediately when a sublime clipped over-the-top pass from David Silva found its way to Sergio Aguero in the penalty area but the Argentinian’s well controlled left footed strike was denied by the woodwork. City responded well to going a goal behind and were rewarded with an equaliser in the 25th minute. A slick passing move culminated in Aguero holding off a challenge before slipping a sublime through ball to his striker partner Edin Dzeko in the area who clinically swept the ball passed Simon Mignolet.

    The rest of the first half was end to end stuff, with both sides looking capable of going in front. The talismanic Yaya Toure was causing the home side problems with his magnificent range of passing, while the trio of Lallana, Sterling and Coutinho looked increasingly lively for Liverpool. However, in the second half it was Liverpool who took the ascendency and looked the more likely to find a winner, especially as the Brazilian maestro Coutinho’s influence on the game grew.

    Despite a difficult start to the season, Coutinho has become an increasingly important player for Liverpool, putting in some fine performances as well as scoring some spectacular goals. And again today he was the outstanding player on the pitch and produced another bit of Brazilian magic to put Liverpool back in front in the 75th minute, jinking in from the left hand side and hitting a thunderous strike into the top right-hand corner of the net leaving Joe Hart with no chance.

    Once again Manuel Pellegrini stuck to his guns and played his favourite 4-4-2 formation but just as it did against Barcelona, the system left City far too open and Liverpool got through the lines at will and exposed the City back four. He may believe in his players and the system, but Pellegrini’s tactical naivety to change it has cost City in a number of big games. He may have the attacking talent to outscore most opposition but playing a midfield four with just one defensive minded player in either Fernandinho or Fernando just doesn’t work in the big games against the best sides but Pellegrini still persists with it.

    Liverpool’s league form since the defeat in mid-December to Manchester has been sensational and if they can maintain it then they should secure a place in the top four. For City, this defeat leaves them five points behind leaders Chelsea who have a game in hand, the title race could well be over.

    Man of the Match: Philippe Coutinho


    Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Lovren, Markovic (Sturridge – 76’), Henderson, Allen, Moreno (K Toure – 83’), Lallana, Sterling, Coutinho

    Subs not used: Ward, Williams, Borini, Lambert, Balotelli

    Manchester City

    Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov, Nasri (Lampard – 83’), Y Toure, Fernandinho (Bony - 78’), Silva, Aguero, Dzeko (Milner – 58’)

    Subs not used: Caballero, Demichellis, Clichy, Fernando

    Referee: Mark Clattenburg

    Attendance: 44,590

    By Rob Howard
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester City Rating: 5 Reviewed By: robhoward
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