Liverpool 3 Manchester City 2: Six reasons why the match was a classic befitting its occasion
Five goals and controversies galore - why it was the game of the season
While Liverpool’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City strengthened their Premier League title charge, the match will be remembered as a clash of the titans’ affair for more than one reason. An emotionally charged, end-to-end affair that was packed full of controversy, five goals and a sending off summed up what can easily be classed as the game of the season.
Haunting memory of Hillsborough tugged on the heartstrings
To start with, the sense of the occasion was completely overshadowed before kick-off by the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. While Liverpool fans are often in strong voice regardless, the pre-match rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was spine-tingling to say the last, and the roar which ended a minute’s silence mark in eerie silence was equally as memorable.
Not even City could contain Liverpool’s lightning starts
Raheem Sterling’s sixth minute opener was the 16th time this season Liverpool have scored inside the first 20 minutes. City started the game by backing off their opponents and allowing them the time and space to link players like Sterling and Steven Gerrard to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. The time Sterling was allowed on the ball in the opening phases suggested the Reds could rack up a cricket score, and it wasn’t until City took the fight to their opponents that they looked to have a standing in the game.
The Kop believes
Though he has always sidestepped the question on whether his team will win the title this season, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has cleverly said that the fans should dream of winning the league, giving them even more reason to spur on the team for the rest of the season. "It's great oxygen for us, as a team and management," Rodgers had previously said. "It's great that the supporters have got that belief. That's so important for them, it's vital that they feel they can dream."
City kept fighting and knew they would have a chance
While Liverpool have scored 93 goals in the Premier League this season, more than any other team, the same plaudits cannot be given to their defence. They have now conceded 42 goals in the league this season, more than seven other teams so City knew if they kept up the pressure eventually they would get through, which made for a thrilling open contest.
England players to the forefront
David Silva and Philippe Coutinho excelled, but they were joined by the England trio of Gerrard, Sterling and the substitute James Milner as the stars of the match. So much so, the Independent's ratings gave them all 8/10. How pleased England manager Roy Hodgson must have been up in the stands at Anfield. Apparently he left the absorbing match five minutes remaining, however, but only after Liverpool owner John W Henry reportedly told him: "We've got a lot of great players for you." That he does.
Game had an edge to it
The title rivals went hell for leather for 90 minutes, and with both teams desperate for the points this created an edge to the fixture. Flashpoints and controversy galore with penalty cases for both sides, and should Suarez should have been sent off for Liverpool as well as Jordan Henderson? Referee Mark Clattenburg refused to book striker the Uruguayan for what appeared to be a clear dive in the second half. Suarez had already been shown a yellow before the break for a late and dangerous tackle on Martin Demichelis, and when the two clashed again shortly after, the striker threw himself to the floor in a theatrical fashion.
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