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    Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City Match Report

    Liverpool survived a late scare in a seven-goal thriller at Anfield to inflict a first domestic defeat on Premier League leaders Manchester City since April 2017.

    The Reds appeared to be heading for an emphatic victory over Pep Guardiola's side having led 4-1 with only six minutes remaining but they had to withstand a late comeback from the visitors, who scored two late goals.

    In the absence of £75 million signing Virgil van Dijk and the departed Philippe Coutinho, Jurgen Klopp's team could have been forgiven for making a tentative start but it was they who came out of the blocks in blistering fashion.

    'Man of the match' Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring as early as the ninth-minute when his marauding run ended with ferocious low strike from 20 yards that arrowed into the corner of the net.

    Although The Reds caught City cold with a fast start that was high in energy and made possible by a relentless high press, it was the visitors who had the greater chances to score in what was proving to be a more even contest.

    Raheem Sterling was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty in the sixth-minute when he was felled by Emre Can's challenge, while Sergio Aguero was inches away from turning home Kevin De Bruyne's low cross from three yards out.

    The Sky Blues did, however, go into the interval all-square courtesy of a virtuoso goal from Leroy Sane, which started when he weaved past Joe Gomez and Joel Matip and ended as his fierce strike deceived Loris Karius at the near-post.

    City also made a positive start to proceedings after the break as Aguero had a goal-bound effort blocked by Matip and Nicolas Otamendi headed against the crossbar from the resulting corner.

    A major sea change emerged once again, however, as the match headed towards the hour-mark, with the home side blitzing their opponents with a devastating spell that produced three goals in nine second-half minutes.

    Firstly, Roberto Firmino was too strong for John Stones as the City defender looked set to intercept Oxlade-Chamberlain's pass and he duly beat his fellow-countryman Ederson with a delicate lob that went in-off the post.

    With the energy in the stadium almost palpable, the home team were then inspired to put on a masterclass of high-pressing and forced the visitors into making a series of costly errors by upsetting the rhythm of their often-flawless passing game.

    Sadio Mane almost extended Liverpool's advantage to 3-1 from the kick-off, after he profited from Fernandinho's misdirected pass, but his effort from the edge of the penalty area struck the outside of the post.

    The Senegalese international duly made amends minutes later after Mo Salah dispossessed Otamendi to create the opportunity, which he rifled into the top corner with a thunderous strike using the inside of his left foot.

    It was then Salah who scored what turned out to be the game's decisive goal, midway through the second-half, when he intercepted a misplaced Ederson clearance before chipping the goalkeeper from 35 yards with an exquisite lob.

    There always remained, however, a possibility that City could find a route back into the game as long as they replied almost immediately, given the home side's reputation of surrendering leads this season.

    Substitute Bernardo Silva duly started the fightback, with six minutes remaining, when he found the bottom corner of the net from 10 yards after Joe Gomez had blocked an Ilkay Gundogan foray inside the penalty area.

    Then, in the first of a signalled four minutes of injury time, Gundogan controlled Aguero's left-footed cross deftly with his chest before producing a delicate finish with the outside of his right foot to beat Karius from six yards.

    There was still time in the dying minutes for City to pursue the most unlikely of equalisers as the hosts, willed on by an anxious Anfield faithful, retreated inside the penalty area to invite some late pressure.

    Sergio Aguero fired harmlessly wide when he cut inside to unleash an effort from 25 yards, while he also headed into the side-netting from close-range as he attacked a De Bruyne free-kick in the final minute of stoppage-time.

    It proved to be City's final chance of the afternoon, with Liverpool hanging-on to claim a fifth straight win in all competitions which elevated the club to third in the table ahead of fourth-place Chelsea on goal-difference.

    Despite the late scare, it was Liverpool's most impressive victory of the season and made all the more significant given the recent departure of the highly-influential Coutinho and the absence to injury of Virgil van Dijk.

    While the dream of matching Arsenal's 'Invincibles' in going a whole Premier League season unbeaten ends, Pep Guardiola's team remain on course to win a historic quadruple of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

    The Sky Blues subsequently had their lead cut to 12 points on Monday night, with second-place Manchester United winning 3-0 against Stoke City at Old Trafford to give themselves a glimmer of hope in the title-race.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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