Liverpool made it three consecutive home Premier League defeats with a 4-1 reversal to Manchester City Anfield.
A brace from Ilkay Gundogan — who also missed a penalty — and strikes from Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden sealed the win for City, while Mohamed Salah’s penalty only counted as a consolation in the end.
The Reds looked devoid of energy and it manifested itself into mistakes with Alisson — usually so assured — culpable for three of the visitors’ goals.
The defeat will put paid to Liverpool’s admittedly slim hopes of retaining their league title with the focus now being on securing Champions League football after a damaging defeat.
The opening of the game was cagey, with both teams paying respect to the attacking capabilities of their opposition and a lot of the passing was safe and conservative.
The Reds funnelled a lot of their play down the left-hand-side and it was through a move constructed down this flank that they created their best chance of the half. Andrew Robertson’s teasing cross was met by the head of Sadio Mane from ten yards out but the Senegalese winger forced it over the bar when he could have perhaps done better.
City rallied and dusted themselves down and began to exert themselves more on the game in an attacking sense. A neat move saw Sterling run into the box and drive at Fabinho. The English winger jinked inside and the Brazilian was unfortunate that he clipped the City attacker with his trailing leg and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot for the penalty.
Gundogan stepped up, but — like Riyad Mahrez in the 2018/19 season — skied his penalty over the bar and the same sighed a breath of relief and headed into the break at 0-0.
The away team began the second half with renewed vigour and they had the games opening goal not long after the interval. Gundogan made amends for his penalty miss as he put the finishing touches to Sterling’s cross. Liverpool stood off City and allowed the England winger to waltz into the box and pull a ball back for Foden to strike. Alisson saved the initial attempt but the German international was on hand to slide in the equaliser.
To the credit, the home team turned the screw in terms of getting a levelling goal. Trent Alexander Arnold’s wondrous ball found Curtis Jones just outside the box and the academy graduate’s first touch took him into the box and his low shot — which looked destined for goal — was blocked by John Stones and went behind for a corner.
Emboldened, Liverpool pushed on again and their efforts yielded a penalty when Ruben Dias felled Salah in the box after the Egyptian raced onto Alexander Arnold’s clipped ball into the channel and then took advantage of the Portuguese international’s poor first touch by running in on goal. Dias pulled the shirt of the Reds’ number 11 and the penalty decision was clear.
Salah studied himself and walloped the spot-kick home to tie the teams at 1-1, which was perhaps fortuitous for the hosts.
From there on in, though, City took full control of the game and they capitalised upon it with three more goals. Gundogan first slid a finish in off the underside of the bar from Foden’s cross. Alisson’s awful kick gave the visitors possession in the Reds’ box and they punished them with a slick combination that lead to the goal.
More gaffes from the Brazilian were to follow when another slack clearance saw the ball land at Bernardo Silva’s feet and the Portuguese midfielder dinked a clipped ball over the Brazilian’s head for Sterling to head into an empty net. It was a series of uncharacteristically poor moments from the world-class number 1 and it was to get worse.
Foden, arguably the best performer of the evening, rounded out the scoring when his powerful, left-footed drive beat Alisson at his near post to make the score 4-1. A chastening defeat for Liverpool, who now have to regather and focus on Champions League qualification.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Fabinho, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Xherdan Shaqiri for Thiago, James Milner for Jones, Kostas Tsimikas for Robertson.
Subs not used: Adrian, Kabak, Phillips, Williams, Oxlade Chamberlain, Origi.