Date: 9th September 2017
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Competition: Premier League
Manchester City lineup –
Ederson, Danilo, Stones, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Walker, De Bruyne, David Silva, Mendy, Aguero, Gabriel Jesus
Subs: Bravo, Gundogan, Mangala, Delph, Sané, Bernardo Silva, Foden
Liverpool lineup –
Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mané
Subs: Karius, Lovren, Sturridge, Solanke, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, Gomez
The Etihad Stadium was the scene for today’s big game between Manchester City and Liverpool. It was bright and wet – perfect weather for some spills and slips.
City went with three at the back, even without the missing Vincent Kompany who had picked up a knock over the international break. Gundogan made the bench – another big step on his comeback journey from serious injury. Aguero returned to the starting eleven, partnering Gabriel Jesus up front.
Klopp, surprisingly, went with Klavan in defence instead of Lovren. Alexander-Arnold and Moreno were the full-backs. Liverpool’s midfield and attack were as expected.
Liverpool did the early pressing with Salah and Mané looking to exploit the flanks outside City’s back three. It was City who got the first shot away, however. De Bruyne, on seven minutes, broke at speed and had a low shot from 25 yards.
Six minutes later and Fernandinho had a similar effort touched around the post by Mignolet.
Liverpool were struggling to create anything clear-cut so far. Some neat interplay between Mané and Moreno on the left ended with a wasted final ball from the Senegalese wide-man.
Shortly afterwards, Alexander-Arnold laid a nice ball off for Henderson. The captain whipped in one of his trademark curling balls to space at the back post. It found Firmino but he could only get a weak touch on it and the ball went straight to Ederson in the City goal.
After 18 minutes Emre Can worked some space for himself and got the strike away but it was saved easily by Ederson.
Then Alexander-Arnold was booked after some lazy play from the youngster allowed De Bruyne to dispossess him. Alexander-Arnold had to foul the Belgian playmaker to stop him.
Salah was making some promising runs on the right, giving Otamendi a tough time, but ultimately his final ball was lacking.
De Bruyne was beginning to dominate the game in the middle now. In the 25th minute, he played an inch-perfect ball for Aguero, splitting Matip and Klavan. Aguero took the ball around the onrushing Mignolet and rolled his finish into the empty net. 1-0 to City.
Mané made a great run three minutes after the opening goal. He was eventually fouled by Stones right on the edge of City’s box. Emre Can tried his luck from the resulting free-kick but he put his shot well wide of Ederson’s left-hand post.
Salah had a great chance to equalise in the 31st minute. Mané put him through one-on-one but he didn’t aim his shot far enough in the corner and Ederson got down to it well.
Gabriel Jesus nearly benefited from some poor play by Klavan. The Estonian defender got caught in possession by Jesus and his final effort was stopped by Mignolet.
The Belgian stopper was again called into action when John Stones got a low strike away from the resulting corner.
The game was turned on its head in the 37th minute. A race for a 50-50 ball between Mané and Ederson saw Mané’s high challenge result in a possible sickening injury for the City goalkeeper. Mané was given a straight red card by Jon Moss. Ederson was eventually stretchered off and replaced by Claudio Bravo.
The Ederson injury resulted in eight minutes of added time at the end of the first half. In the sixth minute of that added time City added a second goal. De Bruyne was again the provider. From the left, he delivered a great cross which was met by the head of Gabriel Jesus. Mignolet couldn’t stop this one. 2-0 to City.
Unfortunately, it was really beginning to look like the second half would need to be a damage limitation exercise for the ten remaining Red men.
Half-time: Manchester City 2 – 0 Liverpool
Oxlade-Chamberlain came on during the break for Salah in what was a very tough situation for the new signing to make his first appearance for the Reds. Klopp tried to change things up with the ten men available. Can was moved back into the centre of a back three, between Matip and Klavan. It didn’t work.
Fernandinho released Aguero after 53 minutes with a great through ball. Aguero unselfishly teed up Gabriel Jesus to his left when through on Mignolet. Jesus put it in with ease. 3-0 to City. This was very tough to watch.
For most of the second half, it was a case of keeping the score to a minimum. Liverpool just couldn’t create anything at the other end without the threat of Salah and Mané. Milner replaced the practically invisible Wijnaldum and ten minutes later Firmino was subbed for Solanke.
Matip had a deflected clearance head goalwards in the 72nd minute but Mignolet produced a great reaction save.
In the 77th minute, Leroy Sané made it four after replacing Gabriel Jesus. Mendy put in a low cross from the left and Sané’s first-time finish at the near post left Mignolet helpless. 4-0 to City.
Emre Can was booked for a foul borne out of frustration on Sergio Aguero in the 80th minute.
Aguero almost made it five in the 87th minute but Mignolet made another great save after the Argentinian got on the end of another De Bruyne ball.
Sané had time to get his second goal. A great left-footed strike from outside the box, curling into the top corner. Again, there wasn’t anything Mignolet could have done. 5-0 to City.
That was it. A terrible day for the Reds who had started positively and were very much in the game up until the red card decision.
Next up, it’s Sevilla at Anfield on Wednesday night in the Champions League. A chance to bounce back for the Reds. It will be very interesting to see if they do.