LIVERPOOL 1-0 MAN CITY: Mohamed Salah was the hero as the sent-off Jurgen Klopp’s side edged the Premier League champions at Anfield, but there was VAR controversy for Pep Guardiola and co.
Mohamed Salah reigned king at Anfield once again with a spectacular goal to help Liverpool beat Manchester City 1-0.
The Reds harnessed the magic of a raucous Anfield atmosphere to edge the Premier League champions, as Jurgen Klopp and co dug in for a season-revving result. Pep Guardiola’s side peppered the Liverpool goal in typical tiki-taka fashion but couldn’t beat Alisson Becker all afternoon.
Erling Haaland tried his luck on numerous occasions but Phil Foden was the only City star to hit the back of the net – only for it to be controversially ruled out after a VAR check. Fabinho was adjudged to have been founded by Haaland in the build-up, just one of many frustrations which the Citizens endured on another miserable trip to a chaotic Merseyside.
Here’s six talking points from Anfield
1. Klopp’s prayers unanswered
When Liverpool left Glasgow on Wednesday evening off the back of a 7-1 romp against Rangers, Jurgen Klopp must’ve finally thought things were looking up. The German even enjoyed a post-match beer with his coaching staff, something he hadn’t done for weeks. And within 48 hours he may well’ve need another – but not in celebration.
Ibrahima Konate missed training on Friday after picking up a knock, leaving Klopp short on centre-backs. Although the Reds were hoping that Sunday morning would bring good news, Konate – who’d only started his first game of the campaign in midweek – didn’t pass a late fitness test and veteran James Milner was recalled into defence. With Joe Gomez coming inside after starring at right-back, it wasn’t an unfamiliar back four for Klopp to employ, but it was unquestionably a blow to their preparations.
2. First-half deja vu
Usually so prolific in front of goal, it was sobering to see Erling Haaland squander a number of opportunities during a to-and-fro first half at Anfield. The Manchester City striker had a few sniffs at goal, but Alisson Becker was there to deny him; firstly ensuring that he wasn’t lobbed after Nathan Ake’s long ball found Haaland racing alongside Virgil van Dijk down the left.
Then, two gorgeous deliveries from Kevin De Bruyne – one improvised and the other perfectly calculated – gave the Norwegian sensation the chance to head home, but his first effort sailed over and the second was comfortably gathered by Alisson. Liverpool threatened too, though, with Diogo Jota wasting the Reds’ best opportunity with a header that fell into Ederson’s arms. Goalless at half-time, it felt very much like last year’s iteration of this fixture which turned out to be a 2-2 draw.
Haaland was wasteful in the first half
Haaland was wasteful in the first half
3. Salah fluffs his lines
Jamie Carragher described him as “electric” in the first half and it was hard to disagree. Mohamed Salah looked his old self again on Merseyside, fresh from a stunning six-minute hat-trick on Wednesday. But merely five minutes into the second period, the Egyptian King stunned his palace for the wrong reasons.
Finding himself in a one-on-one with Ederson just a few yards into Liverpool’s half, Salah raced on but somehow gave the Brazilian goalkeeper a chance to get a fingertip to his deft strike and deny Liverpool’s No.11 from breaking the deadlock. After firing off the shot, those who couldn’t see Ederson’s intervention were already celebrating, only for the ball to creep agonisingly wide.
4. Guardiola’s familiair fury
Only five minutes after Salah’s shock miss, Haaland looked to have finally burst down the Reds’ back door and allowed Phil Foden to smash home. The 22-year-old bound on after dispossessing Fabinho, and although Alisson got two hands to the ball, Haaland was able to knock it through and leave Foden with an open goal to give City the lead – or so they thought.
As wild celebrations ensued in the away section, Liverpool were incensed that referee Anthony Taylor had missed the alleged foul on Fabinho. After a heated VAR check, the goal was overturned and it was Pep Guardiola and co who were left furious, mirroring the scenes during a controversial 2019 clash between these sides.
A small consolation for the Citizens was that after the carnage, Jota once again squandered a header and hit the post.
Man City were furious with Taylor’s decision to overturn their goal
Man City were furious with Taylor’s decision to overturn their goal.
5. Salah spectacularly makes amends
When the best players miss chances, they make the next one count. That’s exactly what Salah did when the time came for his second bite at the cherry.
As Alisson gathered a City cross, he spied the 30-year-old forward on the run and launched the ball up the field. Producing a magical turn, Salah used his strength to spin away from a hapless Joao Cancelo and this time beat Ederson after a composed yet rapid run at goal. Anfield erupted as if it was a title-deciding goal, but for Liverpool’s season, it might just be as big.
6. Klopp sees red amid late chaos
As the Citizens pushed for a late equaliser, the tension grew inside Anfield and for Klopp, his emotions boiled over. When Salah went down under a challenge from Bernardo Silva in the 85th minute, play was waved on and the Reds boss ran down the touchline in rage, screaming in the linesman’s ear for not alerting his colleague to what looked to be a certain foul.
Taylor reacted to the abuse by pausing the game and marched over to send Klopp off with a straight red card. In the meantime, both sets of players got involved in a scrap, most notably Silva boldly taking on Virgil van Dijk. City did their best to find a way to equalise, but even their attacking intricacy couldn’t deny a momentous Liverpool victory.