The biggest league game in Merseyside in the last 20 years, was nothing short of a classic. With the silver anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster two days away, Liverpool recorded a stirring 3-2 result over challengers Manchester City, to take a 7 point lead over the Sky Blues, and remain in top spot of the table of the English Premier League.
Before the match started, Liverpool legends Kenny Daglish and Ian Rush were presented a wreath from Manchester City legends Mike Summerbee, Joe Corrigan and Tony Book that was shaped with the number 96, the amount of lives lost at Hillsborough. After a minute of silence, the crowd came to life and Liverpool fed off the passionate and rousing support from the Liverpool faithful.
With Liverpool attacking the famed Kop end in the first half, Raheem Sterling found the back of the net in the sixth minute, making Vincent Kompany look like an amateur before sliding one past Joe Hart.
The Reds continued to swarm City, and it resulted in a second goal in the 27th minute as Martin Skrtel headed home a Steven Gerrard corner, doubling the advantage for Liverpool.
Manchester City were stunned, but started to find their legs, as Liverpool sat back to protect the 2-0 lead. Led by David Silva, City began to push forward and challenge the Liverpool goal. But Simon Mignolet and the Liverpool back four held their ground, and the Reds went into halftime with a two-goal cushion.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini made a key substitution in the 50th minute, as James Milner came on for an ineffective Jesus Navas. The English International made an immediate impact along the right flank, giving the Liverpool defence fits with darting runs and precise passing. Milner’s influence led to City’s first goal in the 57th minute as Milner found Silva in the 6 yard box, which the Spanish International neatly converted to put City on the board.
City continued to put pressure on Liverpool’s shaky defence. Right back Glen Johnson was being overrun on numerous occasions by Silva which led to chaos in the Liverpool penalty area. It led to Johnson conceding an own goal in the 62nd minute which levelled the score, as Silva’s cross deflected off Johnson and Mignolet into the corner of the net.
With the Anfield crowd on edge, City sensed they could take over this game. However, a costly mistake by Kompany in the 78th minute proved to be dire. As the Belgian central defender tried to clear a ball away from the City penalty area, he badly misplayed the ball off his toe, clearing it right to Philippe Coutinho, who took advantage of the situation and screamed one past Hart into the bottom right corner of the net. Anfield erupted with noise as the Reds had regained the lead.
City desperately tried to equalize but couldn’t penetrate the Liverpool defence. Not even the sending off of Jordan Henderson for a clumsy challenge on Samir Nasri couldn’t turn the tide into City’s favour. When the whistle blew for full-time, the Liverpool supporters were in full voice singing “We’re Gonna Win The League” as captain Steven Gerrard urged them on.
Liverpool will travel to Carrow Road to face a desperate Norwich City side next week. The Canaries are in a relegation battle and points are at a premium. If Liverpool get a positive result from that fixture, it sets up an even bigger fixture with rivals Chelsea at Anfield in a fortnight’s time. An away fixture to Crystal Palace and a home date with Newcastle United will close out the season. If Liverpool runs the table, they will win their first league title since 1990, a drought that the loyal supporters of Liverpool FC are aching to end. Today’s victory over Manchester City could go a long way in quenching that championship thirst.
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