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    Liverpool 1-0 Manchester City Match Report

    Liverpool kept in touch with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table by beating Manchester City at Anfield in a game that failed to live up to its pre-match expectations.

    Despite never finding their top form, City dominated possession throughout the game but it was Georginio Wijnaldum's eighth-minute header that proved the difference between the two teams.

    The visitors improved after the break having created few meaningful chances in a poor first-half showing, while Liverpool rarely looked like adding to the lead given to them by Wijnaldum.

    The result once again cut Chelsea's lead at the summit to three points after the Londoners had won earlier in the day and duly allowed The Reds to open up a four-point gap over their third-place opponents.

    Both Liverpool and City went into the game in pursuit of a fourth consecutive win with the losing side facing the prospect of surrendering further ground on runaway leaders Chelsea, who had beaten Stoke 4-2 earlier that afternoon.

    The match marked the first meeting between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola in English football, with the Spaniard holding a slight advantage of four wins to three from eight meetings that had all taken place in the Bundesliga.

    Klopp elected to shore up his midfield with the inclusion of Emre Can, who replaced Divock Origi, while his counterpart Guardiola recalled Sergio Aguero at the expense of Nolito after the Argentine had served a four-match ban.

    Liverpool's more defensive formation paid dividends early on as the away side struggled to find their usual offensive rhythm despite having over £200 million pounds of attacking talent on display.

    The Reds capitalised by scoring from the game's first clear-cut chance, with Adam Lallana's left-footed cross picking out the head of Georginio Wijnaldum who still had plenty to do from 12 yards out.

    The Dutch international towered above Aleksandar Kolarov and produced a bullet header into the bottom left-hand corner, past the despairing dive of Claudio Bravo who was beaten by its pace and accuracy.

    Liverpool, despite never hitting top gear, continued to have the better of the first-half and could have doubled their lead after 28 minutes had James Milner's through ball been controlled by Roberto Firmino.

    Emre Can also should have done better when his attempt to bend an effort into the top right-hand corner, from just outside the penalty area, sailed harmlessly high and wide.

    City failed to muster a opportunity of note during the first-half but Simon Mignolet was required to produce some deft, yet decisive footwork to prevent Aguero from getting on the end of a David Silva through ball.

    On the stroke of half-time, the away side were fortunate to still be in the game when Yaya Toure's casual pass was intercepted by Lallana but the former Southampton player was unable to stay onside when Roberto Firmino tried to play him in on goal.

    City came out after the break playing with a greater tempo and intensity but despite dominating the early stages of the second-half, they were unable to severely test Mignolet between the Liverpool sticks.

    Sergio Aguero tried his luck from 25 yards but his left-footed strike was comfortably saved by the Belgian, while David Silva weaved past several defenders on the edge of the six-yard box before unleashing an effort that went agonisingly wide of the far post.

    Former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling endured a frustrating evening for the away side but he could have brought his side level when he struck against the side-netting from Yaya Toure's long-flighted pass.

    Like in the opening 45 minutes, chances were few and far between as Liverpool seemed happy to defend their narrow advantage while City's passing was lacking its usual fluency as they attempted to find the elusive equalizer.

    In the dying minutes, Silva at first appeared unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty when he was bundled to the ground by Lallana but, under closer inspection, the incident had taken place outside the area.

    It proved to be the last meaningful action of what had mainly been a disappointing encounter but, nevertheless, one that yielded three valuable points for Liverpool to keep them on the heels of leaders Chelsea in the the title race.

    Jurgen Klopp's often-maligned defence was not put under significant pressure throughout the match but they coped well with what was thrown their way in order to keep a sixth clean-sheet in the last nine matches.

    Perhaps owing to the current fixture congestion, Liverpool were never at their most fluent and free-flowing best but their victory was deserved for the one piece of magic they produced in the eighth minute.

    Manchester City, meanwhile, will be disappointed with how they managed to lose a match they had dominated in terms of possession but, having failed to significantly test Mignolet, can have no complaints about the result.

    The defeat allowed North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham to both overtake Pep Guardiola's team in the table following their victories over Crystal Palace and Watford respectively on New Year's Day.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 1-0 Manchester City Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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