Liverpool 3 Manchester City 2: Steven Gerrard admits 'that was the longest 90 minutes I've ever played in' after thrilling win
Reds edge ever closer to first title in 24 years after win at Anfield
Actions spoke louder than words in the aftermath of an extraordinary 10th successive Liverpool Premier League victory which might yet prove to be the club’s most significant at Anfield in a quarter of a century.
As the old stadium erupted into a state of delirium when the final whistle sounded on the 3-2 win over Manchester City, Liverpool’s captain, Steven Gerrard, gathered the players into a huddle on the field and, struggling to be heard above the din, told them: “Listen, this is gone. We go to Norwich. Exactly the same. We go together. Come on!” Minutes later, a tearful Gerrard declared that this had been “the biggest statement we’ve made so far” as Liverpool stood seven points clear of City, having played two games more. With four games left, the title challenge is in their own hands.
“That meant so much, especially when they got back into the game,” Gerrard added, after City had pulled back to 2-2 before Philippe Coutinho’s technically sublime 78th-minute volley won the game. “I feared the worst at that point. It was the longest 90 minutes I’ve ever played. I kept flashing back to how long the clock was taking – [longer than all] the cup finals and big games I’ve played in before.”
Inevitably, there was a steadfast refusal to suggest that the title was within reach. “All the men in the TV studio – Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher – I’m sure they’ll put whoever they want into the driving seat,” Gerrard said, with a nod to his old friend and team-mate Carragher. “You know that nothing is ours yet. Nothing is ours yet.”
Demba Ba’s 68th-minute goal sealed Chelsea’s 1-0 at Swansea, which certainly keeps the Londoners in the picture, two points behind Liverpool, with their visit to Anfield to follow a week on Sunday. City’s prospects were left damaged by manager Manuel Pellegrini’s admission that the groin injury which forced Yaya Touré off after 19 minutes may mean that his season is over. Such injuries generally take at least two weeks to heal. Pellegrini controversially became the latest manager to suggest publicly that Liverpool’s Luis Suarez dives, with City’s players demanding he should have been given a second yellow card for simulation in the second half.
“Suarez has a special way to play and everyone knows it. Our defender managed without any problems and the referee must decide,” Pellegrini said.
Rodgers declared: “We should have had a penalty. Suarez gets into the box. Vincent Kompany holds him. There is contact. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.”
The broader picture was that another extremely powerful start to the game – Liverpool’s modus operandi in a season when they have amassed 93 Premier League goals in 34 games and scored at least three goals in 10 of the last 14 games – earned the win.
“We dominated everything in the first half,” Rodgers said, after a day which began with tributes to the 96 fans who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago this week.
“To play with that energy and intelligence was remarkable. To have had three or four goals in that [first] period would have been worthy. We are where we are and still fighting. All I know is the group is very tight and there’s a real closeness – you see that. When I came here, we might have gone on and lost that game. But we went again. The level of some of our football today was so good.”
Merseyside Police were investigating an alleged attack on a minibus carrying members of the Eccles branch of the City supporters’ association on Sunday night. The side window of the 25-seat vehicle is thought to have been smashed after it came under attack near Anfield Road before kick-off.
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