Liverpool earned a fantastic 3-0 first-leg advantage in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash with Manchester City at Anfield on Wednesday evening.
The Reds were in red-hot form in the opening half an hour as a strike from Mohamed Salah opened the scoring, with Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain doubling the advantage with a stunning strike. Sadio Mané extended the lead with a simple header in the 31st minute at the back post.
Liverpool were made to weather a storm in the second-half but they confidently held off a talented Manchester City outfit to secure a significant advantage heading into the second-leg at the Etihad Stadium next week.
Quick Liverpool start
Predictably, it was Salah who blasted Liverpool ahead with the game in its infancy. Following sloppy play from Leroy Sané, Trent Alexander-Arnold played an excellent through ball to the Egyptian. He passed to Roberto Firmino but his low shot was saved by Ederson. The Brazilian though edged ahead of Kyle Walker to tap the rebound to Salah who finished coolly into the net.
Sané then attempted to draw Pep Guardiola’s men level minutes later as he trotted forwards but the German dragged his low effort just wide.
City disintegrate at Anfield again
The evening got even better for the Anfield crowd soon after as the ball was thundered home from the just outside the box to make it 2-0. James Milner produced an excellent challenge with the ball falling to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the edge of the box. The former Arsenal man struck an exquisite shot that flew past Ederson to double Liverpool’s lead.
Jürgen Klopp’s men streaked even further into the lead just past the half-hour mark through Mané. Salah again found space on the right and jinked past Aymeric Laporte. The Egyptian then crossed towards the back post where Mané was waiting unmarked to nod low into the net.
The Reds had further chances to extend their lead in a blockbuster first-half through Firmino and Virgil van Dijk but neither were able to find the target.
Reds lose talismanic Salah
Manchester City were given some encouragement after the break with Salah being withdrawn through injury. Another substitution also gave the Reds something more to think about as former Liverpool man Raheem Sterling was introduced to the fray, welcomed by a chorus of boos from the Anfield faithful.
Gabriel Jesus, who was starved off clear-cut chances throughout the tie, attempted an acrobatic effort with only a quarter of the game remaining. The Brazilian however was unable to trouble Loris Karius.
The Citizens continued to dominate throughout the closing exchanges but an excellent challenge from Milner ensured Sané was not able to find enough space in the penalty area. They did have the ball in the net eventually through Jesus but the strike was ruled out for offside as Liverpool secured a fantastic victory.
Whilst Liverpool were clearly not at their best in the second period, their first-half showing at Anfield really was a sight to behold. The visitors were simply not able to cope with the talents of Salah, Firmino and Mané and it showed as Klopp’s men roared into a considerable lead.
Manchester City did improve after the interval but they were simply not able to carve open Liverpool’s defence, which will leave Guardiola furious. They now have a huge task ahead of them if they are to reach the semi-final of the Champions League as the focus switches to the second-leg at Anfield.
Liverpool: Karius (6); Alexander-Arnold (8), Lovren (7), van Dijk (6), Robertson (7); Milner (8), Henderson (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (8) (Moreno (N/A), 85′); Mané (8), Salah (8) (Wijnaldum (6), 53′), Firmino (7) (Solanke (6), 71′).
Manchester City: Ederson (6); Walker (6), Kompany (7), Otamendi (6), Laporte (5); Fernandinho (5), D. Silva (6), De Bruyne (7), Gündoğan (5) (Sterling (6), 57′); Sané (6), Jesus (5).
Goals: Salah (12′), Oxlade-Chamberlain (21′), Mané (31′)
Referee: Felix Brych
Yellow Cards: Otamendi (45+3′), Jesus (76′), De Bruyne (80′), Henderson (86′), Sterling (90+3′)
Red Cards: N/A
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