Immense Win For Liverpool Over Title Rivals City
In a day that began with a sombre and poignant silence for the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough 25 years ago almost to the day, it was sure to be an emotional atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday as the Reds attempted to truly cement their place in the title race.
Fans gathered around Anfield hours before kick off, waiting to bring in the team coach and "unleash" their famous support. With Brendan Rodgers aiming all week to try and take the pressure off the lads, dealing with the media like a pro, it may have helped calm the players somewhat but kopites alike for want of a better phrase were absolutely bricking it.
Despite the nerves Liverpool fans truly believed they could overturn the might of Manchester City. The blue club from Manchester have been fantastic this season and just like Liverpool pose a massive threat in attack, however the Reds enjoy games where the opposition are open and City simply had to come at us.
The game couldn't have got off to a better start for Liverpool who would find the back of the net after just six minutes. A moment to note prior to the goal though was the Suarez challenge on Demichelis. I personally don't think it was that bad a challenge and for me it was definitely more of the fact that Clattenburg was trying to set a precedent for the game. Nine times out of ten a challenge like Suarez's that early on would have warranted a warning.
Minutes later though Liverpool found themselves quickly forgetting about the decision along with Luis Suarez who broke with a beautiful ball to Raheem Sterling. The youngster made a mockery of the City defence twisting and turning eventually wrong footing Hart and the defender to slip the ball home. The view of the Kop from the cameras was absolutely mental, what I would have given to be present at Anfield. I on the other hand was on the sofa shouting "Hit it! Hit it! Hit it!... Why isn't he hitting it?! YEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!" haha.
I was so glad Sterling netted because after that ridiculous offside decision given against him at the Etihad I felt he deserved a goal in this fixture.
Shortly after Liverpool had taken the lead a Manchester City break saw Yaya Toure have a pop at goal. His effort flew way off target and in the process he pulled with up an injury. Toure is an absolutely cracking player and a top bloke but it was hard not to feel a bit happy that he would have to leave the game, he commands the midfield and has such an influence that it was bound to help Liverpool. He was eventually replaced with Garcia.
Liverpool then followed with another wave of attack the likes of Coutinho and Sterling were causing real problems for City who struggled to stem the flow. Initially a Sterling cross fell to Sturridge who sent his effort just wide to the left of goal. Shortly afterwards Coutinho stepped up to take a corner, unbelievably Steven Gerrard was free in the centre of the box and leapt to send in a strong header, convinced it was in, there was Joe Hart to spoil the party.
The resulting corner from the other side was then taken by Steven Gerrard. Martin Skrtel left his marker Vincent Kompany with ease and skipped into space, his glancing header then flew past Hart and into the back of the net as Anfield proceeded to go absolutely mental once again.
It was hard to believe that only 25 minutes had passed and we were already 2-0 up and whilst it was hard not to get carried away you simply had to calm yourself down because there was no way City were not going to find the back of the net in this game.
Some pressure from the away side began to appear late on in the first half. Firstly a risky challenge from Sakho on Dzeko in the box left Reds fans holding their breaths but Clattenburg decided not to give the spot kick. I do feel City had a case there to be honest but as the game unfolded there were plenty of poor decisions for both sides.
Next Jesus Navas produced a cross for David Silva who sent a header wide then came the real heart stopping moment. A Nasri corner flew into the box and in the melee and fumbling from Mignolet a shot on goal was produced that had to be cleared twice on the line by our defenders. It all happened so fast that watching live there was no real chance to panic but once the ball was cleared it was shocking how close that was, a goal in the first half for City could have completely changed the game dynamics.
Shortly after this troublesome moment Fernandinho got a shot on goal but Mignolet redeemed himself this time pulling off a fantastic save.
Liverpool had soaked up the pressure from City and retained their 2-0 lead going into the second half.
The first real incident of the second half once again involved Luis Suarez. After a challenge from Demichelis Suarez went down on the edge of the box in a theatrical fashion. For me it didn't look that bad of a challenge at first but I also didn't think he'd dived. When I saw the replay I began to feel as though he had dived but further analysis appears to have shown that there was minimal contact. Anyway the main point was the fact that City felt if he had dived he should have been booked but cruicially it appears Clattenburg was regretting his very early booking that he gave to Suarez. As I mentioned earlier I think he was unlucky to get that first yellow and to receive a second here and be sent off would have been very harsh in my opinion, I'm sure City fans will completely disagree but that's the way I feel.
In contrast to the first half, the second half began with the game in City's hands. After Pellegrini brought on James Milner a few minutes into the half it was clear to see the influence he was having on the game. A one two involving Milner and Fernandinho set Milner through on goal but he opted to pass to Silva who finished with ease to put City back in the game.
Now boosted, City were applying constant pressure whilst Liverpool began to look nervy despite the fact they still had the upper hand on the scoreline. It wasn't long until Milner was causing problems again along with Nasri and Silva in the box, after a mix up in the box Glen Johnson's deflection ended up sending the ball past an unprepared Mignolet who could not have foreseen the mishap. It was frustrating for Liverpool to concede in this way but you have to credit City who may not have scored the goal but were providing an onslaught in attack during this period.
After seeing out the majority of the pressure Liverpool began to work hard to get back into the game. A draw may have been acceptable for Manchester City and who knows in the long run it may have been enough for Liverpool but Brendan's boys are serious title challengers and the eleven men on that pitch along with the manager and the whole of Anfield desperately wanted that win. Anfield continued to roar on the lads and slowly but surely the pendulum began to swing back in our favour.
A couple of penalty decisions left Liverpool fans asking questions of their own when firsly Daniel Sturridge appeared to be brought down in the box and then shortly afterwards Luis Suarez was being ragged and pulled by an unusually flustered Kompany. The City defender is another player I genuinely like and he's usually very composed but City did not like Liverpool's dominance at all on Sunday and sometimes players take out their frustration in the wrong way as Liverpool would also see themselves later in the game.
In the midst of a more Red dominated period City did get another few chances but luckily were unable to convert them, a worrying moment saw Silva outstretched in front of goal but his shot trickled wide.
At 77 minutes Liverpool earned a throw in to the right of goal. Throw ins never usually spark excitement as it is hard to create immediate problems from them however Glen Johnson's throw saw an erratic attempted headed clearance fall to Vincent Kompany, a man you would put your house on being able to make a simple clearance however he completely fluffed it, slicing the ball into the path of the brilliant Philippe Coutinho. He had one chance and one chance only to set this shot up and place it and boy did he deliver! This really was edge of the seat slow motion sort of stuff as Coutinho squared up to take it and then bang! His effort flew neatly into the bottom right of goal putting Liverpool back into the lead!
It had been crazy all afternoon but Anfield now literally was insane. Me at home on the other hand had jumped off the sofa screaming my head off whilst quite possibly deafening my fella and me Mom. I also suddenly realised that along with winning £9 on Skrtel scoring I was also on for a £20 win if this scoreline stayed the same, not that I was arsed about money at this point in time!
Shaking like a leaf I sat back down for what is easily the most nerve wracking section of a league game I have ever watched.
A Milner cross into the box in stoppage time raised even more questions for Man City as it appeared as though Skrtel had cleared the danger with his hand. I do feel we were again lucky with this one but along with our penalty decisions as I said earlier I honestly feel overall both sides had decisions go for and against them and on the whole Clattenburg was just pretty shite.
The final note of the game for Liverpool came when a nervous Jordan Henderson felt he simply had to do something to prevent another City attack but his challenge was extremely poor, his high boot was very dangerous and he rightly received a straight red card. It's a blow for Liverpool but at the time all that mattered was to see out the final few moments of this game and we did!
As the camera zoomed on a teary Steven Gerrard I almost began to well up myself. The captain seriously wants this and his speech at the end with the rest of the lads was brilliant. There's four games left and although we know anything can happen I challenge anybody to stand in that man's way, his passion and fight will filter through to everyone and along with the brilliant tactics and temperament of Brendan Rodgers I honestly feel we can do this now.
City was the hump in the road, I knew we had the quality to beat them but if we couldn't pull it off for me that would have been it. I still insist that I am more nervous about the likes of Norwich and Crystal Palace than I am of Chelsea and after seeing this weekend's game I don't feel scared of Chelsea one bit.
As Steven Gerrard has said today we have have four cup finals left, it's a massive task of course it is but with the momentum we have we can do this!
I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received.
Next up for Liverpool is Norwich...