Manchester City’s bid for Champions League football took a major hit as they were beaten 3-0 by a resurgent Liverpool at Anfield.
Andy Carroll scored his first goals for Liverpool since his 35 million pound transfer from Newcastle in January, and Dutchman Dirk Kuyt added another as the Reds racked up a three-goal lead by half-time.
And although they did not add to the scoreline in the second half, Liverpool were comfortable enough to show that they could yet be contenders for the top four, if not this season, then certainly next season.
The Reds are unbeaten at home since Dalglish took over, and now only five points behind Tottenham in fifth place.
But Spurs are only three points behind City with a game in hand, and the way Roberto Mancini’s men caved in during the opening half must be a real concern to the Italian manager.
Even worse, they lost inspirational striker Carlos Tevez with a hamstring injury that will rule him out of their FA Cup semi-final against bitter rivals Manchester United on Saturday, and could even put him out of the run-in as they battle for fourth spot.
On an unlucky night for City, it was fitting they fell behind in the 13th minute.
Luis Suarez had already seen a shot pushed on to the post by City keeper Joe Hart when the ball dropped to Carroll after Raul Meireles’ shot was half-blocked by Vincent Kompany.
Carroll did not hesitate before smashing his shot past Hart from 25 yards.
Disaster followed for City soon afterwards when Tevez pulled up clutching his hamstring, and had to leave the pitch.
Kuyt then made it 2-0 in the 34th minute. City failed to clear their lines, and the Dutchman was alert when the ball went right across the penalty area unchallenged, drilling it into the far corner of goal from 18 yards.
And to cap a miserable half, Carroll scored again a minute later, getting a glancing header on an in-swinging cross from Mereiles as Liverpool threatened to run riot.
Shellshocked City tried to reorganise after the break, and did not concede any more goals, but rarely threatened Pepe Reina’s goal, and Carroll almost completed a hat-trick in the closing stages with a header that went just over the bar.
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