Liverpool missed out on a chance to stay at the top of the Premier League table after suffering a defeat at Manchester City. Goals from Vincent Kompany and Alvaro Negredo secured the victory for City after Phillipe Coutinho had put the Reds 1-0 up. It was a win that kept City’s 100% home record intact although Liverpool arguably deserved at least a point from an entertaining encounter at the Etihad.
Luis Suarez again captained Liverpool in Steven Gerrard’s absence and was – as expected – instrumental in all of Liverpool’s key moves. The Uruguayan’s slick passing and superb touches wouldn’t have looked out of place against a City side that had obliterated Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle, and Manchester United at home this season, as well as putting 7 past Norwich City.
But it was Liverpool that made the early runnings, and they should have been 1-0 up when Raheem Sterling was put through on goal by Suarez. Sterling rounded Joe Hart only to be denied by the linesman flagging for offside. Replays showed that it was a horrific decision with the young winger timing his run to perfection and being a couple of yards onside when Suarez played the pass.
But it wasn’t long before Suarez, Sterling and Coutinho were combining for the opener. A fantastic flick by star man Suarez found Sterling, and his touch fell into the path of Coutinho, who calmly dispatched to put the Anfield giants ahead. It was a deserved lead but one that saw City fans shocked to see their side – who had scored 35 goals and conceded just 5 at home all season – go behind.
But Manuel Pellegrini was calm on the touchline, and he was right to be as his side equalized through skipper Kompany from a David Silva corner. The Belgian headed home as Simon Mignolet failed to get down quick enough. It could have been Brendan Rodgers that was the happier of the two managers when a fantastic counter attack saw his side carve open the City defense. But when Suarez played the ball brilliantly to Coutinho twelve yards from goal, the Brazilian saw his effort denied by a world class stop from Joe Hart.
It looked as though the sides would go in level at the break but a quick and effective move from City – starting at the back – saw a chance arrive for Alvaro Negredo. After Yaya Touré found Samir Nasri, the Frenchman played a fantastic ball to Jesus Navas. It was a Navas pass that found Negredo, whose lofted shot found the net through Mignolet’s grasp. It was a major clanger by the man between the Liverpool sticks and gave City an unexpected lead at the break.
This set the tone for a nervy second half where neither side had many clear cut chances, with City content to hold on to their lead and Liverpool wary of letting City wrap things up. A guilt edged chance on the 73rd minute should have seen the game leveled up, but Sterling could only put the ball over the bar when it looked harder to miss. It was a frustrating miss to take for the Reds in front of their anguished travelling fans.
But despite the game finishing in City’s favor, Rodgers and Liverpool should be proud of their efforts and – on another day – could well have won against the best home side in the league. Liverpool are starting to show their credentials as potential title challengers and will have high hopes of – at the very least – a top four finish.