Liverpool’s title party was brought to an abrupt end after they were walloped 4-0 by Manchester City at the Etihad.
Goals from Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, and an Alex Oxlade Chamberlain own goal condemned the full-strength, yet at times shambolic Reds to a heavy defeat. Despite some good chances, the visitors — many of whom looked to feeling the impact of their league winning celebrations — fluffed several chances and the hosts capitalized on all their opportunities.
Whether or not the game would be played at exhibition pace was answered early. Virgil van Dijk’s searching pass found Mohamed Salah’s run and the Egyptians effort was parried away by Ederson. Firmino was alive to the rebound but his effort was tame and City cleared their lines.
With the hosts extremely high defensive line, the Reds had joy with long passes in behind. A better pass from Trent Alexander Arnold would’ve put Sadio Mané through on goal, but the ball was over hit and the move petered out.
Liverpool were the better side in the opening ten minutes and they should’ve converted their pressure into a goal when Alexander Arnold crossed for Mané, but the Senegalese badly miscued a header from the penalty spot.
The opening goal almost arrived near the 20 minute mark. Firmino’s cutting pass found Salah and he drifted inside and crashed a left footed shot off the post from just outside the box. A poor touch from Mané squandered an opportunity from the ricochet and City breathed another sigh of relief.
Despite being the second best for the opening 25 minutes, it was the hosts who took the lead. de Bruyne — easily the runners ups best player up until that point — converted a penalty after Joe Gomez fouled Raheem Sterling and referee Anthony Taylor correctly pointed to the sport. De Bruyne sent Alisson the wrong way and found the bottom left corner from 12 yards out.
Liverpool kept turning the screw, but several good openings were wasted when the final ball went awry and the home side escaped unscathed.
Against the run of play, City doubled their lead when Sterling turned home Foden’s pass. Andrew Robertson was caught badly out of position on a counter attack and Sterling finished low past Alisson from just inside the box. Much of the Reds approach play was good but they were given a lesson in clinical finishing by the home team.
City added a third when Foden — after playing a give and go with de Bruyne — took advantage of awful Robertson positioning and calmly over Alisson to make the half time score 3-0.
Jurgen Klopp clearly wasn’t happy with the first half showing and he withdrew Gomez, replacing him with Oxlade Chamberlain at the interval and dropping Fabinho to centre half.
City kept pushing the initiative and both Sterling and Jesus came close with the Reds lagging and lacking focus. Mané personified this lax showing when Henderson sent him through on goal and the forwards legs got tangled and he failed to touch the ball.
The Reds had a penalty appeal ten minutes at the break when Kyle Walker pushed Mané in the back, but VAR confirmed it was just outside the box.
The home team quadrupled their lead when de Bruyne, again, slid in Sterling and the former Red, taking advantage of Robertson’s poor positioning, had an effort at goal that Oxlade Chamberlain diverted into his own goal.
The Reds won’t mind too much with the title sewn up.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutions: Oxlade Chamberlain for Gomez, Keita for Wijnaldum, Williams for Alexander Arnold, Origi for Firmino, Minamino for Mane.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.