Mohamed Salah’s sensational second-half goal sealed a 1-0 victory for Liverpool over Manchester City in a pulsating encounter at Anfield which also saw Jurgen Klopp sent off.
Salah, fresh from his six-minute hat-trick against Rangers, produced a brilliant piece of control to take down Alisson’s long kick and spin away from Joao Cancelo before beating Ederson with a cool finish (76) as Liverpool put their recent struggles behind them.
Klopp’s red card came as tempers frayed in the closing stages, the Liverpool manager dismissed after reacting furiously when the hosts were denied a free-kick for an apparent foul by Bernardo Silva on Salah, whose goal ended a five-game Premier League scoreless streak.
That incident came after Pep Guardiola had also been left irate earlier in the game when a Phil Foden goal was overturned by VAR after Erling Haaland was deemed to have fouled Fabinho in the build-up.
Liverpool came into the game 13 points behind City following their worst start to a season in 10 years but they defended resolutely, becoming only the second Premier League side all season to prevent Haaland from scoring, and seizing their chance when Salah, who had earlier been denied by Ederson in similar circumstances, caused Anfield to erupt with a goal which breathes life into their season.
For City, meanwhile, the defeat brings an end to their unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign and leaves them four points behind early leaders Arsenal, who beat Leeds 1-0 earlier on Sunday.
Liverpool: Alisson (9), Milner (8), Gomez (9), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (8), Thiago (7), Elliott (7), Fabinho (7), Salah (8), Firmino (7), Jota (7).
Subs: Nunez (5), Carvalho (6), Henderson (6), Alexander-Arnold (n/a), Tsimikas (n/a).
Manchester City: Ederson (6), Cancelo (5), Akanji (6), Dias (7), Ake (6), Gundogan (7), Rodri (8), De Bruyne (6), Silva (6), Haaland (6), Foden (7).
Subs: Alvarez (n/a).
Man of the match: Joe Gomez
How Liverpool stopped the City machine
Liverpool were facing a momentous task against a City side who had scored 13 goals in their last three Premier League games and that task was made even tougher before a ball had been kicked.
A muscular injury to Ibrahima Kante saw the French international join Joel Matip on the sidelines, meaning Joe Gomez had to move across to centre-back and James Milner had to fill in at right-back, with Trent Alexander-Arnold only fit enough for the bench.
- Joe Gomez started in central defence due to an injury to Ibrahima Konate, James Milner started at right-back, while Mohamed Salah returned to the starting line-up following his hat-trick against Rangers.
- Pep Guardiola made only one change from the Man City team that beat Southampton, with Ilkay Gundogan replacing Riyad Mahrez. Erling Haaland started again having been rested in midweek.
The makeshift backline faced a stern test against the free-scoring Halaand, and the City striker had a series of half-chances before the break fresh from being rested against FC Copenhagen in midweek.
The first of those chances saw him denied by Alisson when he attempted to chip the Liverpool goalkeeper from Ilkay Gundogan’s pass. He then twice spurned headed opportunities, the second of which came from a trademark Kevin De Bruyne cross.
Liverpool held firm, though, and created openings of their own in the first period too, with Diogo Jota sending a free header straight at Ederson from Harvey Elliott’s cross, and the returning Andrew Robertson blazing over following another dangerous attack.
It was after the break, though, that the game truly exploded into life.
A frenetic period began with Ederson brilliantly saving from Salah after the Egyptian had sprung City’s offside trap from Roberto Firmino’s pass, and within minutes City thought they were in front.
Foden was the man to have the ball in the net, firing in via a deflection off the otherwise outstanding Gomez after Alisson had failed to gather a De Bruyne pass under pressure from Haaland.
But City’s joy was short-lived, with referee Anthony Taylor instructed to consult the pitch-side monitor and duly penalising Haaland for a shirt pull on Liverpool midfielder Fabinho.
The reprieve emboldened Liverpool, with Jota going close again when he headed over from a Salah cross at the far post, but City continued to threaten too, with Haaland during a superb one-handed save from Alisson soon afterwards.
It was Liverpool, though, who made the decisive breakthrough, Salah’s outstanding control from Alisson’s kick outfoxing Cancelo and putting him through on goal for a second time.
City struggled to break down Liverpool as they tried to fight back in the closing stages, with tensions boiling over when Klopp was red carded by Taylor.
But it was Liverpool who created the better chances, with substitute Darwin Nunez inexplicably opting to shoot rather than find a team-mate during a three-on-one attack, and Alexander Arnold, another substitute, also going close.
In the end, though, a single goal was enough. Enough to kickstart Liverpool’s season, perhaps, and certainly enough to leave City with catching up to do on surprise leaders Arsenal.
Guardiola on disallowed goal: This is Anfield
Man City boss Pep Guardiola to Sky Sports:
“The referee came to the coaches and said, ‘play on, play on’. There were a million fouls. But after we scored a goal, he decided it is not play on. This is Anfield.
“We had [enough] chances. We had some fantastic chances.
“All the game we were brave, we played the game we should play and I don’t have any complaints or regrets over how we have done it.
“We had chances but not enough to do it. We made a good process to not allow them transitions. In general the back three was brilliant.”
Man City midfielder Bernardo Silva to Sky Sports:
“What we expect from the referees is consistency in the decisions and when you go through a path of not whistling little contacts throughout the whole game, you need to keep those decisions and keep going that way.
“If you want to whistle all of them, whistle all of them, but if from the beginning of the game you’re not – he was letting us play which is good – then if there’s a goal you cannot whistle that soft one.
“If you want consistency from the referee you cannot change just because there’s a goal and just because it’s a tough decision, you have to make the tough decision and keep the goal.”
FPL Stats: Liverpool vs Manchester City
|Bonus points||Alisson (3 pts), Van Dijk, Gomez (2 pts)|
Klopp: I deserved my red card
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to Sky Sports:
“Result, perfect; performance, really, really good in an incredibly intense game.
“We defended at an incredibly high level for 99 minutes and had really good footballing moments. We scored one goal and could have scored more.
“They had their moments as well but, especially in the box, we did extremely well. We won nearly all the duels. I think there was one free header from Haaland.
“We showed up today and that’s what we wanted to do.”
On his red card, he said: “In the end, probably deserved. But, that situation, you cannot not whistle. After all the things that happened on the pitch, I don’t know what Mo Salah has to do to get a free-kick.
“Pep [Guardiola] and I agreed on the touchline. We didn’t understand the challenges which were allowed and all these kind of things.
“Why would you do it? Both sides. The game would not be a little bit worse, but we have to take that, we are on the weak side of it. We have no power at all.
“At this moment, something switched off, I’m not proud of that. But it’s the clearest foul I ever saw, in front of the linesman, and he says play on.
“How can you let that situation go? It’s clear he pulled him down. Sometimes we get a bit carried away, and that’s what happened to me in that moment.”
Carra: Win can transform Liverpool season
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:
“I think it could [transform Liverpool’s season]. It’s big when you have three Premier League games in one week, you’ve got a real chance to jump up the table.
“Liverpool have got West Ham in midweek before facing Nottingham Forest on Saturday, so it gives them a good opportunity.
“I thought Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah were outstanding in the game. We’re all searching for reasons why Liverpool dropped off, but any great team when they’re at their best, I think it revolves around five or six players and the rest fit in around them.
“When you think of the stars of the team, you think about the goalkeeper Alisson who has been really good this season, Van Dijk, Trent, Fabinho as the shield, Salah and Sadio Mane.
“Those are the players which stood out for me. Sadio has left, Trent has been nowhere near his level, Van Dijk, Fabinho hasn’t and Salah hasn’t.
“Van Dijk played with more intensity than I’ve ever seen him play with and Salah at the other end was electric. When you get your best players playing, everyone else plays well around them.
“Every outstanding team relies on its five or six leaders, and they were outstanding today. That’s why Liverpool are where they are.”
Analysis: Salah outshines Haaland
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:
One had nine goals in his last five Premier League appearances; the other had none. But it was Mohamed Salah, not Erling Haaland, who proved the decisive figure at Anfield.
Salah had flickered into life with his six-minute hat-trick against Rangers following a period of poor form and he picked up where he left off against Manchester City. “Electric,” was Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher’s assessment of his performance.
The winning goal showed him at his devastating best, the 30-year-old cushioning Alisson’s long kick and spinning away from City defender Joao Cancelo in one sweeping movement before keeping his cool to beat the advancing Ederson.
But it was not the first time Salah had engineered a route in behind City’s defence, the visitors requiring an outstanding save from Ederson to prevent him from scoring in similar circumstances soon after the interval.
Haaland, meanwhile, floundered at the other end, Liverpool becoming only the second Premier League side all season to prevent him from scoring – and the first to keep a clean sheet against City.
It seemed everyone inside Anfield was waiting for the net to bulge when he met Kevin De Bruyne’s diagonal cross at the far post in the first half, but his header went straight into the arms of Alisson.
He was denied by the Brazilian on other occasions too, once attempting to lift the ball over him following a trademark run off the shoulder of the last man, then seeing a low strike acrobatically pushed around the post in the second half.
It was not Haaland’s day in the end – albeit only by the ludicrous standards he has set himself – and his misfortune was compounded by the foul on Fabinho which prompted VAR to acrimoniously rule out Phil Foden’s goal early in the second period.
The pre-match discussion had focused on how quite how Liverpool would stop Haaland. But this was a reminder, if it was needed, that stopping an in-form Salah is a similarly difficult task.
Liverpool end City’s away run – Opta stats
- Liverpool are now unbeaten across their last 28 Premier League matches at Anfield (W21 L7) since losing six in a row between January and March in 2021.
- Manchester City have lost a Premier League away game for the first time since August 2021 against Spurs, ending what was the longest unbeaten away run in their league history (22 games).
- Pep Guardiola has lost 11 matches against Jurgen Klopp as a manager, at least four more defeats than against any other coach.
- Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 14 goals against Manchester City in all competitions for Liverpool (nine goals, five assists), his most against any opponent for the Reds.
Liverpool are back in action on Wednesday when they host West Ham at Anfield, with kick-off at 7.30pm.
Manchester City have no midweek fixture, meaning their next outing is on Saturday when Brighton travel to the Etihad Stadium, with kick-off at 3pm.