Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool applied a double blow to Anfield. He beat the City of Guardiola for the first time in the Premier and claimed the lead with 11 wins and a draw in 12 days, which translates into nine points ahead of his magnificent pursuer. The current champion left the crossing remarkably stunned. In addition to suffering a defeat with an impact on the classification, it can drag moral consequences on a hegemonic team that is now relegated to fourth place behind Leicester and Chelsea. The City was passed out in a duel that is, in its own right, new English classic and great ideological reference of continental football.
Alisson, Lovren, Trent Alexander-Arnold, A. Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk, Henderson (Milner, min. 60), Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Mane, Roberto Firmino (Oxlade-Chamberlain, min. 78) and Salah (Joe Gomez, min .86).
Bravo, Tasende, Walker, Fernandinho, John Stones, Gündogan, Bernardo Silva, Rodrigo, Sterling, De Bruyne and Aguero (Gabriel Jesus, min. 70).
1-0 min. 5: Fabinho. 2-0 min. 12: Salah. 3-0 min. 50: Mane. 3-1 min. 77: Bernardo Silva.
Rodrigo (min. 64) and
Gabriel Jesus (min. 94).
Harassing Liverpool's wings was the most obvious of the objectives of the Guardiola program. More than as an offensive procedure, as a preventive measure. Depleted or injured their best centrals (Laporte and Otamendi), without their more expert left-handed sides (Zinchenko and Mendy), and without their starting goalkeeper (Ederson), in the blue barracks everyone had to assume that the visit to Anfield offered no more escape than the opposite goal. A step back was equivalent to stumbling.
The Manchester team left the game to invade the opposite half of the pitch, especially the outer lanes, where Sterling, Silva, Agüero, Walker and Angeliño tried to control the ball and the spaces to drag with them to the red sides. Covered in positions apparently distant from the heat of the definition, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are the origin of the vast majority of Liverpool's dangerous actions, although at the conclusion of the maneuvers the spotlights illuminate brighter characters. The harassment to which both flanks were subjected during the first minutes of the meeting reflected Guardiola's apprehensions. All justified. At the first distraction, it was Liverpool's goal.
It happened after five minutes. It attacked the City. Silva was driving. The Portuguese faced Robertson and took the ball in a groped action. First it bounced on Silva's hand, then on Arnold's hand. Controlled the ball by the defender scouser, who had come from the other side for help, gave it to his Scottish colleague. Robertson received and had a second to think. Too. The fault was of Walker, who came escorting Silva. Instead of doing back pressure and suddenly attacking the ball holder, Walker turned to the line judge asking for a hand. Enough for Robertson to throw Mané with a long pass through the same band to the tremendous space that opened between the defenders and the attackers of the City, match irremediably when the first pressure line fails.
Mané made fun of Stones without difficulty and his center was barely managed by Gündogan, who came down hit to clear where they always win the energetic flyers of the Klopp box. Fabinho went to the right front of the area little covered by Rodri in the confusion of the disbander. Fabinho's right described a straight path. Like a shot. The ball came in close to the stick and the City began to crack. The 1-0, rather than discovering a football problem, exposed the current champion to a feeling he rarely experiences: insecurity.
Guardiola sank into the padded bench. He shook his head. A sort of discouragement seized its players. They seemed exalted every time they crossed the midfield line in the direction of the Alisson goal. But they were proportionately depressed if they had to go through it in the opposite direction. In the retreat, the City became a tormented and unordered team. And that affected his possessions, less and less coordinated. The final blow came quickly. Again, Liverpool's sides were once again decisive. But more.
The play started with a change of direction from Alexander-Arnold to Robertson. A recurring exit in the rapid maneuvers that Klopp has designed. The center of Robertson on the second post unbalanced the defenders a little more and caught Angeliño, the left-handed imberbe, with his guard down. Salah beat him upside down to score the second.
Rest did not alter the landscape. The 3-0 was triggered by a Alexander-Arnold throw-in that resulted in a Henderson center and a header from Mané on the second post. The goal highlighted the lack of communication between the languid Walker and Stones, who crossed reproaches. He also scored the substitute goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, very rigid in the defense of his suit.
The City lacked aim. A goal by Bernardo Silva past the hour eased the torment of his team, belatedly grown to the beat of an opponent who aculaba to protect income. "We automatically retreat," Fabinho acknowledged later. If the 1-0 waved the visiting bench, Guardiola's exasperation with the fourth referee became apparent when neither the referee nor the VAR decreed a penalty for the obvious hand of Alexander-Arnold, who thus covered a Sterling pass. With the fingers in uve, the Spanish coach made the sign of victory to the stands: not to share the joy of the fans but to remind them that they had forgiven two penalties.