Manchester City 1-4 Liverpool

City were soundly beaten by Liverpool after a dreadful day at the office for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

The Blues slumped to a record Etihad Stadium loss and the heaviest home loss since February 2003 on a day when little went went right for the soon-t-be-disposed Premier League leaders.

City were down and out as early as the 32nd minute with the visitors racing into a 3-0 lead and despite Sergio Aguero pulling back a goal just before half-time, it proved no more than a consolation as Jürgen Klopp’s re-energised side ran out deserved 4-1 winners.

After an emotional minute’s applause while La Marseillaise was played before kick-off, the game began at the frantic pace expected of two fierce rivals with the added spice of Raheem Sterling and James Milner facing their former employers for the first time.

But City quickly struggled to cope with Liverpool’s high energy pressing in the opening stages and soon began to uncharacteristically lose possession and after seven minutes, the Blues fell behind.

Bacary Sagna appeared to be fouled under the challenge of Adam Lallana, but the referee allowed play to continue as Roberto Firmino’s low cross came in Eliaquim Mangala got his feet in a tangle and knocked ball past Joe Hart to give the visitors the lead.

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The Blues could offer no meaningful response and were soon two down after another defensive error gifted Liverpool a second as a wayward Martin Demichelis header resulted in Firmino crossing for Philippe Coutinho to knock the ball through Hart’s legs from close range and double Liverpool’s advantage with only 23 minutes on the clock – his fourth goal against City in five games.

And it got worse, too, as a nervy-looking City were carved open time and time again. In fact, when the third goal arrived on 32 minutes as the impressive Firmino tapped home from close range from Coutinho’s cross, the only real surprise was that it had taken so long with the Blues completely out of sorts in all areas of the pitch.

Liverpool almost made it four shortly after through Firmino, but instead of the game being over, five minutes from the break, from nothing and with the first meaningful shot on target, Aguero cut inside from the left and curled a superb shot past Simon Mignolet to give his team a glimmer of hope.

City rallied somewhat thereafter with Aguero and Fernando both having good opportunities within a minute of each other just past the hour-mark and Delph making a decent fist of it in midfield, but at the other end, Hart was forced to make a fine save from Firmino who had raced clear of the Blues’ defence and looked certain to score.

Hart came to the rescue again as he saved well from Christian Benteke, but with the crucial second goal never arriving for the hosts,, there was always the danger of conceding another – and on 82 minutes, Martin Skrtel lashed home a fierce drive from the edge of the box to give Hart no chance and complete a thoroughly miserable day at the Etihad for a well-beaten City.

The only consolation for the Blues is that it’s highly unlikely they will play as badly as this again this season and, with Arsenal also losing, City are just two points adrift of leaders Leicester.

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