Alisson was punished for a chaotic second-half spell as Manchester City stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League after a 4-1 win over Liverpool in a heavyweight clash with significant ramifications for the title race.Mo Salah’s 63rd-minute penalty had wrestled back momentum for the faltering champions after Ilkay Gundogan – who missed a first-half spot-kick – had made the breakthrough at Anfield shortly after the interval (50).
But two unforced errors in the space of four minutes from Brazillian goalkeeper Alisson allowed Gundogan (73) and Raheem Sterling (76) to dramatically haul the contest – and seemingly the Premier League crown – back in City’s favour.Phil Foden then capped an imperious display with a late fourth (83) as Pep Guardiola’s ominously-efficient side humbled their hosts.City, on a 14-game winning streak, are now 10 points ahead of Liverpool and five clear of Manchester United, with a game in hand on both sides, while Liverpool, Anfield aura further diminished, have lost three league games in a row at home for the first time since 1963.
Phil Foden celebrates scoring against Liverpool
Liverpool: Alisson (2), Alexander-Arnold (5), Fabinho (5), Henderson (7), Robertson (6), Thiago (5), Wijnaldum (6), Jones (7), Salah (6), Firmino (5), Mane (6).
Subs used: Shaqiri (6), Milner (6), Tsimikas (N/A)
Man City: Ederson (6), Cancelo (5), Stones (7), Dias (5), Zinchenko (6), Silva (7), Rodri (7), Gundogan (8), Mahrez (6), Sterling (9), Foden (9).
Subs used: Jesus (6)
Man of the match: Phil Foden
How City tightened title gripJurgen Klopp had called for brave football after back-to-back home defeats blamed on mental fatigue but a game that felt make-or-break for his players started in cagey fashion between two sides brimming with midfielders.
Foden was deployed in an improvised forward line against a still-makeshift Liverpool backline but while the Reds’ attack had a familiar feel with Sadio Mane returning to the starting line-up, neither side could muster much menace at a stadium that felt pointedly hollow for such a pivotal fixture.
Alisson, Fabinho and Sadio Mane all returned for Liverpool, with Curtis Jones also replacing James Milner in midfield.
Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko started for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus and Aymeric Laporte dropping to the bench.
Sadio Mane reacts to missing a chance against Man City
Mane flexed his neck muscles to divert Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross just over the bar midway through the half and Ederson was forced to tip a Roberto Firmino half-volley behind soon after as Liverpool warmed to their task.Their steady momentum looked set to be checked when Fabinho’s trailing leg caught a shimmying Sterling shortly before the break but Gundogan, so impressive in recent weeks for Guardiola’s side, aimed for the top-left corner yet skied his spot-kick.Fireworks lit up the Liverpool sky, an apparent attempt to freshly spark the Merseysiders after that let-off, but Guardiola’s tactical tweak – Bernardo Silva pushed further forward to support Foden – instead proved the catalyst as City broke the deadlock.Sterling too easily evaded Alexander-Arnold and though Alisson pushed away Foden’s close-range effort, Gundogan this time made no mistake on the follow-up.
Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring for Man City against Liverpool
Curtis Jones flashed a shot just wide as Liverpool sought a swift response but though Klopp’s side looked sapped of energy, a searching pass from Alexander-Arnold prompted a rare Ruben Dias error and Liverpool were suddenly level, Salah punishing the tug from 12 yards.
Alisson laments costly errors in Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat to Man City
Klopp pumped both fists in encouragement as his side ended a goal drought of 410 minutes at Anfield, but he would soon fume at self-inflicted damage as Alisson scuffed a pass to Foden, who dinked to the byline and crossed for Gundogan to score his second.
Ilkay Gundogan wheels away after restoring Man City’s lead at Anfield
The Liverpool goalkeeper compounded his error by repeating it moments later – passing to Bernardo Silva even closer to goal, and his simple chip was headed home by Sterling for his first goal at Anfield since he left and his 100th under Guardiola.Foden cut inside with eight minutes remaining as City asserted their authority in ruthless fashion and left an energy-sapped Liverpool side clinging to fourth spot.Man of the match – Phil Foden”It feels like the day that Phil Foden has come of age and delivered on that promise that he has shown in the past few years,” purred Gary Neville on co-commentary.Back in the Super Sunday studio, Graeme Souness piled more praise on the City youngster: “I would put Foden at the top of the tree when you look at Maddison, Grealish and Mount. I think he is arguably the best. I just think that man is silky, courageous, he sees the picture, he has obviously got a bit of pace. There is so much to enjoy about this young man.”
The pundits’ verdict: ‘Courageous City, Liverpool drained’Gary Neville: “Liverpool have been amazing for three years – Champions League final, Champions League win, then winning the Premier League. They have been at it full pelt. It is difficult to keep that momentum going for four years. It is just a natural dip. I don’t think there is a need for too much panic. They are just going through a bad moment. It was always going to come at some point. They just look a bit tired, a bit drained. It happens.”Roy Keane: “Man City showed courage today, bravery to pass forward. Liverpool were the opposite – you talk about champions. They didn’t put up a fight in the second half. Man City were outstanding, they were by far the better team. If Liverpool could’ve won today it would have been a decent week for them but what a weekend it’s been for City. Foden, what a talent.”Opta stats – City equal all-time winning runManchester City have now equalled the all-time winning run by an English top-flight side across all competitions, winning each of their last 14 matches – the same number as Preston (ending in 1892) and Arsenal (ending in 1987).Liverpool are the first side to lose three straight home league matches in the following campaign after winning the English top-flight since Chelsea did so almost 65 years ago, back in March 1956.After 23 games this season, Liverpool (40) now have 27 fewer points than they did at the same stage last season (67), the biggest drop by any reigning champion at this stage of a campaign in English top-flight history.Man City’s Raheem Sterling is only the third player to score 100+ goals in all competitions under Pep Guardiola in his top-flight managerial career, after Lionel Messi (211) and Sergio Aguero (120).Of all players to score at least 10 goals across all competitions within the top five European leagues this season, only Erling Haaland (20y 201d) is at a younger age than Manchester City’s Phil Foden (20y 255d).lkay Gündogan is now Manchester City’s joint-top scorer across all competitions this season (11, also Sterling), while Bruno Fernandes (18) is the only midfielder who has netted more among Premier League players in all competitions this term.What’s next?Liverpool travel to Leicester for a lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League on Saturday, with their Champions League last 16 first-leg tie against RB Leipzig taking place in Budapest three days later.Manchester City head to Swansea for an FA Cup fifth-round clash on Wednesday, before returning to Premier League action at home to Tottenham on Saturday evening, live on Sky Sports.