Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were all on target as Liverpool beat Manchester City 4-3.
Liverpool left Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League record in tatters with a thrilling 4-3 win over the leaders.
Anfield has long provoked a sense of dread for City, who last won at the Merseyside ground in May 2003, and they collapsed under an unsustainable weight of individual errors as Liverpool ran amok after half-time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced a midfield performance to thrill the Liverpool faithful in the wake of Philippe Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona and opened the scoring with an excellent ninth-minute opener on an afternoon of high-class finishing.
Leroy Sane thrashed a shot beyond Loris Karius at the near post to draw City level five minutes before half-time and Jurgen Klopp’s choice of goalkeeper might have come in for greater scrutiny had the three attacking stars Coutinho left behind not sparkled at the other end.
Roberto Firmino’s 10th Premier League goal of the season arrived courtesy of a deft finish in the 59th minute and Sadio Mane added a third 126 seconds later, having found time to hit the post in between.
City were a mess as Mohamed Salah completed a dizzying spell of three goals in nine minutes and, although Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan set up a grandstand finish, Liverpool deservedly inflicted a first defeat upon Pep Guardiola’s side in 23 top-flight games this season.
Salah recovered from a hamstring injury as expected to line up in the Liverpool attack and John Stones got across well to block a shot from the Egypt star after Firmino and Mane tested City’s high defensive line in the fourth minute.
Raheem Sterling went down softly in the area and was predictably booed by the Anfield faithful, who were soon sent into raptures by Oxlade-Chamberlain.
There appeared to be little danger when the former Arsenal man collected a loose ball 30 yards from goal but he glided effortlessly past Fernandinho before arrowing a brilliant drive across Ederson and into the bottom left corner.
The visitors were struggling to assert themselves as an attacking force but Sergio Aguero was just shy of finding a decisive touch on the end of Kevin De Bruyne’s delicious 20th-minute cross.
City’s task became steeper when Fabian Delph limped off with an apparent knee injury after half an hour. The left-back’s replacement, Danilo, was promptly outmuscled by Oxlade-Chamberlain, who saw Firmino head an inviting cross wide at the near post.
Liverpool appeared to be closing in on a second before the increasingly ragged league leaders were roused by Sane’s exquisite talent.
The Germany winger chested down Kyle Walker’s searching pass, darted inside Joe Gomez, skipped beyond a squared-up Joel Matip and clattered a strike past Karius at his near post as Gomez slid in vain.
Nicolas Otamendi headed against the top of the crossbar from a Sane corner early in the second period, although such signs of encouragement for City would soon be smashed to pieces.
Ederson saved sharply from Salah but was then left exposed by Stones, the centre-back misjudging Oxlade-Chamberlain’s throughball and allowing Firmino to get goal side and clip a delicate finish beyond his countryman.
Mane then rattled the post with City’s defence reeling but the Senegal international made no mistake in the 61st minute, clattering into the top corner.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>We all know what happened next… <br><br>Take a bow, <a href=”https://twitter.com/22mosalah?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@22mosalah</a>. ? <a href=”https://t.co/od11d9oz3A”>pic.twitter.com/od11d9oz3A</a></p>— Liverpool FC (@LFC) <a href=”https://twitter.com/LFC/status/952594612660686848?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 14, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Salah passed unselfishly on that occasion and could scarcely believe his luck when an utterly scrambled City were harried into a series of defensive mistakes, culminating in Liverpool’s top scorer lifting a marvellous finish into an unguarded net from 40 yards as Ederson languished in no-man’s land.
Guardiola’s men remain 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League and such advantages are not built without considerable reserves of courage.
Silva was a lively introduction from the bench and converted after Gundogan’s 84th-minute shot was blocked. The Germany international then controlled and finished tidily in stoppage time but Liverpool held on to let a shaft of light into the title race.
Key Opta stats:
– Liverpool inflicted Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat since last April against Chelsea, bringing an end to their 30-game unbeaten run.
– Pep Guardiola has lost five matches against Jurgen Klopp in his managerial career, more than against any other manager.
– Manchester City’s run of 22 matches unbeaten from the start of the season can be bettered by only two teams in Premier League history – Arsenal in 2003-04 (38 games) and Man Utd in 2010/11 (24 games).
– Liverpool have scored 85 goals in all competitions this season, just seven shy of the tally they managed in the entirety of last season (92).
– Leroy Sane has had a hand in 16 Premier League goals this season (7 goals, 9 assists), exactly double the number he was involved in during last season (8).
– Mo Salah has scored 24 goals and assisted another seven in 30 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions this season.
– This was Manchester City’s first 4-3 defeat in the Premier League since they lost to Manchester United by that scoreline in September 2009.