Man City end Liverpool's unbeaten run to breathe life into title race

Friday, 04 Jan, 2019

It was a game that Guardiola said his side could not lose and the magnitude of the match was not lost on the players, with both teams playing at a frantic pace. Salah debunked that theory last season by providing the goals that fired Liverpool to the Champions League final, but if he has been missing one thing in his game this term, it has been his ability to hurt his team's biggest rivals.

The result in Manchester reduced the Reds' lead at the top to four points with 17 matches remaining - but Wijnaldum insisted nobody in the squad is paying attention to the table at this stage.

The win also gives City much-needed momentum and halts the relentless charge of Liverpool, who would have gone nine points clear of Tottenham and 10 ahead of City with a win.

Sadio Mane found Roberto Firmino down the right-hand side, and his cross into the center was almost headed into Man City's net by Fernandinho, but Ederson was quick to react and prevent the own goal.

A lively City start faded and they had a lucky escape in the 17th minute.

The clearance came after a shot from Sadio Mane hit the post.

Manchester City's defence is not lacking in investment though and shouldn't need to rely on such a safety net.

"We don't have a left-back".

The charismatic German would have hoped that Salah holding the right side would expose Aymeric Laporte, who was playing away from his preferred position in the centre.

Meanwhile, Christmas had been kind to Liverpool.

It is now 11 games in all competitions since City kept a clean sheet - the 4-0 win at West Ham in November - and this game once again highlighted their issues at the back.

And as an air of panic gripped the stadium, with City falling back and Liverpool being invited to launch a succession of long balls into the area, Guardiola took on the role of cheerleader so often assumed by Klopp - demanding greater noise from the stands to see City over the line.

Croatia worldwide Lovren has looked solid alongside Virgil Van Dijk for large spells of the season, but crumbled in the pressure of a crunch fixture and they may have missed the injured Joe Gomez in the heart of defence.

In addition, Van Dijk - who signed for the club this time previous year for an estimated $94 million - has brought much-needed leadership to a back-four that has conceded just ten league goals this season.

And it was all hands to the pump as Liverpool pressed in those chaotic closing moments, although City did not help their own cause with some wayward late finishing. Liverpool boasts of the best record against the Premier League's top five sides.