A slip. That was all it took. One misstep separated these teams. Joao Cancelo failed to collect a long kick from Alisson and suddenly it was not at all what promised to be the biggest goalless draw the Premier League had witnessed.
By the end, the noise inside Anfield was deafening, Jurgen Klopp had been sent off for raging at a linesman over a foul on Mo Salah that wasn’t called, and six minutes of injury time was signaled, taking the frantic atmosphere up another notch. Meanwhile, the gap at the top stood at four points.
The biggest advantages here were Arsenal. Not that you would have known. Mo Salah’s goal with 15 minutes left took the roof off the ground and shook it to the rafters. The new stand must have a very solid foundation, otherwise it may fall over.
Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the only goal in the game against Manchester City on Sunday night
Salah went clean through on goal after turning Joao Cancelo before coolly slotting the ball into the bottom corner
Salah had missed a golden chance earlier but the striker made no mistake at the second time of asking
The Liverpool players looked delighted after showing they can still beat the very best teams in the world on their day
It was brilliant, quick thinking by goalkeeper Allison, the kind of high-tempo idea that had defined Liverpool all afternoon. He saw Salah one on one against Cancelo. He gave the Manchester City man a test and he failed it. Cancelo is usually exemplary, but Salah scared him. He stepped forward to kill the ball, missed and Salah spun him. Now he was gone, only Ederson to beat. He finished in style, his first league goal since August – although as recently as Wednesday he scored a hat-trick in the Champions League against Rangers. It’s too early to say Liverpool are back – they put nine past Bournemouth and still haven’t turned a corner – but this was a fantastic return to form. They rocked City the old fashioned way. The energy was from the disc.
The tension too. City thought they had scored through Phil Foden after 53 minutes, but Anthony Taylor was rightly flagged for a foul by Erling Haaland on Fabinho in the build-up. As Liverpool’s fans celebrated, Pep Guardiola made a great show of whipping them up like Klopp does. The managers admire each other, but between these clubs little love is lost.
It was Liverpool’s day. The best save of the game was made by Ederson in the 50th minute after Roberto Firmino again put Salah through. Ederson got a touch but Taylor didn’t see it. When City scored their disallowed goal from the resulting botched goal kick, Haaland’s error was probably the best.
Jurgen Klopp was shown a red card for his words to the fourth official after Salah was fouled near the end of the match
Phil Foden thought he had broken the deadlock from close range but it was chalked up to a build-up error
Erling Haaland failed to contribute a goal or assist for only the second time in his City career, both against Liverpool
Should Salah have been on the pitch. His number came up as Klopp made a clutch of substitutions two minutes before the goal, but after the striker stalked over to the touchline, face like thunder, he was given instructions and told to carry on. The 11 seemed like a mistake rather than a change of heart, but regardless, it was one of the happier u-turns in recent memory.
At the other end, it was not Haaland’s day. He took his chances, forced a good save from Alisson but couldn’t be the difference. Guardiola was seen in a smiling conversation with a striker at the end, but it was Salah. Klopp was also back as he was understandably sent off for a snarling tackle on a linesman who saw no foul on Salah. It was a sad end for Diogo Jota who, after missing a couple of good header chances, picked up a nasty injury and was carried off on a stretcher in the middle of the breathless finish.
Manchester City have always brought out the best in Liverpool and this game was no different. It has been an inconsistent, frustrating season so far, plagued by injuries and fluctuating form. Yet Jurgen Klopp and his players face the challenge of a Pep Guardiola side as often happens.
Pep Guardiola shared a few words with Salah after the referee’s full-time whistle at Anfield on Sunday
The Liverpool players clearly felt that the win could prove to be the turning point in a difficult season
So they started here as old Liverpool. Greedy, furious, relentless, dangerous. The Liverpool plan that, at its best, has swept City off the park in previous meetings. This city are a different proposition though, so even though they seemed rattled at times and under immense pressure, they didn’t crack. City went into the break with the score level. They threatened, sure, but they knew they were in a fight. Guardiola is not ruling out Liverpool as title contenders, no matter how off pace they appear to be in the league table.
Liverpool dealt City a few hard blows to welcome them to Anfield early on, but the first shot came from Ilkay Gundogan, forcing a straightforward save from Alisson. It wasn’t until the 32nd minute that something resembling a scoring opportunity presented itself for City, Erling Haaland through one on one but seemingly caught in two minds between chipping Alisson and shooting at goal, presenting him with another simple stop.
The Anfeild atmosphere was electric throughout as the Liverpool fans willed their team to victory in the big game
It wasn’t Haaland’s half. In the 35th minute, a lob from Kevin De Bruyne didn’t arrive with the necessary power to be moved forward with power and sailed tamely over the crossbar. Better from De Bruyne five minutes later with the same goal, but Haaland could only control the ball in Alisson’s direction again.
At the other end, Liverpool could have done more. In the 21st minute, the excellent Harvey Elliott – who looks right at home in this company – found Diogo Jota with a ball into the box that should have demanded more from Ederson in the City goal. Just three minutes later, a fabulous passing move involving Virgil van Dijk, James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Jota and Milner again saw the right-back’s cross pushed out by Ederson, with Liverpool shirts galore. The ball came out to Andy Robertson who hit a shot with venom over the crossbar.
Scroll down to see how it all unfolded with Sportsmail’s live runner.