Manchester City lost ground on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against a revitalised Liverpool at Anfield.
In one of the most thrilling games we’ve seen for some time, both sides had chances to break the deadlock, and Mohamed Salah’s 76th-minute chip was the goal that stole it.
The biggest talking point of the game was Phil Foden’s goal that was chalked off by VAR, with an Erling Haaland foul on Fabinho the reason why. Pep Guardiola was left furious with the decision as City continued to push forwards, but they didn’t take their other chances in a game where their star Norwegian was kept quiet by a strong Liverpool defence.
On 15 and 33 minutes, Haaland had his first sightings of goal, the first seeing his left-footed effort charged down well by Joe Gomez, and the second a header over the top from a delicious Kevin de Bruyne cross.
After the break, Salah was denied by an excellent Ederson save after he was sent through by a sumptuous Roberto Firmino through pass, but two minutes later, Foden would have the ball in the net as City had what they thought was an invaluable break-through.
De Bruyne slid Haaland in, and the Norwegian beat the onrushing Alisson to it as he stabbed it on for Foden, with the left-winger slamming home via Gomez, only for VAR to come to the hosts’ rescue.
But it was the Egyptian King who was the man of the moment: beating Ederson at the second attempt with quarter of an hour to play. He capitalised on an excellent Alisson pick out after a poor de Bruyne free kick, and the covering Joao Cancelo misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing the right-winger a run in on goal, which he duly took.
Jurgen Klopp was dismissed from the technical area after venting his anger at referee Anthony Taylor, who didn’t give the hosts a free kick after a clear foul on Salah by Bernardo Silva.
City falter, as Liverpool rebuild slowly. A massive win for them, as they clamber back into the top half of the table, looking to kick on now.
TALKING POINT – MAGIC MO MAKES MOST OF VAR MYSTERY
It was always going to come down to fine margins here, and VAR is the epitome of that.
Guardiola will complain about the Foden goal being chalked off after Haaland’s foul, but it was correctly ruled out after the Norwegian pulled Fabinho’s shirt, allowing for a turnover of possession that proved decisive.
Salah was the match-winner, with his chipped finish the cherry on a very impressive performance that saw the dynamite winger back to his brilliant best.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – JOE GOMEZ, LIVERPOOL
Under the radar, and a surprise when Salah was the match-winner, but my plaudits go to this man.
A rock at the back today, he marshalled the right-hand channel expertly, even when playing alongside makeshift right-back James Milner, who was also at his very best to nullify an electric Foden to the best of his ability.
Against Haaland, Gomez stood his ground and played smarter not harder, deciding early to not engage fully in a physical battle that would have put him on the back foot.
He was indeed aided by a vintage Virgil van Dijk display, but the England international has today shown why he should still be in the running for a place on the plane to Qatar.
Liverpool: Alisson 7, Milner 8, Gomez 9, van Dijk 8, Robertson 7, Fabinho 6, Thiago 6, Elliott 7, Salah 8, Firmino 7, Jota 7. Subs: Carvalho 6, Nunez 6, A-Arnold 6, Tsimikas 6.
Man City: Ederson 7, Akanji 6, Dias 6, Ake 6, Cancelo 6, Rodri 6, de Bruyne 6, Gundogan 6, Silva 7, Haaland 6, Foden 7. Sub: Alvarez 6.
35′: OVER! Haaland nods over, as Liverpool are outraged! Rodri is adjudged to have fouled Salah as City play on, and Haaland misses from a delicious cross!
51′: GREAT SAVE Liverpool come forward with a flying break as Firmino sends Salah through on goal as he spins Dias, he stares down Ederson as he rushes onto the pass, and the Brazilian keeper gets a fingertip to it to divert it around the far post. What a chance.
53′: GOAL! City are in front, and it’s Phil Foden! The goal is given despite an alleged foul on Fabinho in the process, and Liverpool think Haaland has kicked the ball out of Alisson’s hands. de Bruyne slid the Norwegian in, and he stabs the ball forwards into the path of Foden, who slams home via Gomez. 1-0. // NO GOAL! It’s ruled out! A foul on Fabinho from Haaland, and Guardiola is furious.
64′: GREAT SAVE The ball falls for Haaland to strike unconvincingly from Gundogan’s driving run, but Alisson gets down really well to paw it away.
76′: GOAL! Liverpool are ahead, and it’s Mo Salah! A dreadful mistake from Joao Cancelo after an excellent Alisson pick-out. He raced through, beating Ederson at the second attempt, dinking the Brazilian with great aplomb.
86′: RED CARD Jurgen Klopp is sent off! He was angry about a foul on Salah by Silva, and the Liverpool manager is off!
90+3′: CLOSE! Really well done by Nunez down the left as he skips away from Cancelo, fizzing one on the ground for Alexander-Arnold, who slides in and can’t convert!