Manchester City’s only Premier League defeat as they move to the brink of the title has been a 4-3 loss at Anfield in January – and they were made to suffer once more in the face of Liverpool’s pressing, aggression and potent attack.
Mohamed Salah started it with his 38th goal of an incredible season in the 12th minute, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added a thunderous second in the 20th minute.
Manchester City looked in disarray defensively and Sadio Mane headed the third after 31 minutes as City’s historic nightmare at Anfield continued.
The visitors did improve in the second half but were unable to grab an away goal ahead of the second leg at the Etihad next Wednesday.
Liverpool were magnificent, delivering arguably the performance of the season, by any English club. Clinical on occasions, but mighty in their defensive resilience, too. Loris Karius did not have a shot to save against a group of players that have been relentless in their attacking ambition this season.
Liverpool’s midfield were the stars. James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain — as names on a team-sheet they appeared dwarfed by City’s stellar equivalent, yet this was their night. They protected the defensive line, they hassled City’s creators to the point of madness. Guardiola’s side looked lost in a way they have not all season — even here in January, losing 4-3.
The win means Jurgen Klopp has stretched his superior head-to-head with Guardiola to seven wins in their 13 encounters and leaves the Spaniard needing to call on all his expertise to spark a second leg fightback at the Etihad Stadium.
Anfield was at its most hostile – but there were unsavoury incidents before kick-off when fans outside the ground attacked and damaged the Manchester City team coach on its way into the stadium, prompting an “unreserved” apology from Liverpool and an investigation from Merseyside Police.