LONDON: Liverpool are back in business – despite a late red card for manager Jurgen Klopp. A second-half goal from Mo Salah inflicted Manchester City’s first defeat of the Premier season after they denied Erling Haaland a goal for only the second time in the league.
City manager Pep Guardiola had been furious early in the second half when Phil Foden had a goal ruled out by VAR but this 1-0 defeat saw a City who were never quite the clinically smooth machine of earlier weeks.
Klopp had complained, in the run-up to the match, at the disparity in financial power between the two clubs. He pointed out that state-backed clubs such as City – but also Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle – had an in-built advantage over all their rivals and challengers. But his men’s energy and intensity closed the gap.
Klopp’s men went into the clash 13 points behind their long-time rivals and having only won two of their eight games so far.
Liverpool started with plenty of positive enthusiasm before City began to take control of midfield with their usual passing game. Erling Haaland was just too late to catch a ball through the middle. Liverpool refused to be intimidated. They created opportunities for a header from Diogo Jota and a shot over the bar from Andrew Robertson before Harvey Elliott was foiled by an excellent challenge from Nathan Ake.
Three times Haaland threatened to add to his 15 Premier goals. The best chance of the three was six minutes before halftime when Kevin de Bruyne provided the assist only for the Norwegian to head the ball direct at goalkeeper Allison.
At halftime Klopp would have been pleased with his own team but Guardiola not so much with his men.
Five minutes into the second half Liverpool should have opened the scoring. The chance fell to Mo Salah, fresh from his seven-minute hat-trick against Rangers in midweek. The Egyptian raced through the centre of the City defence only for Ederson to stretch a finger to the shot which skidded inches wide of the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.
Three minutes later City thought they had taken the lead. Haaland stretched a leg to a through pass to rob Allison and Phil Foden shot the loose ball into the net. The goal was denied after a VAR check. Haaland had pulled back Fabinho in the build-up. Guardiola was furious.
Liverpool expressed their relief by racing back to the other end and Jota planted a ‘free’ header over Ederson’s crossbar. Now Klopp appealed to the crowd for even greater noise.
Allison dived right to foil Haaland then Bernardo Silva thumped an angled shot wide. But Liverpool were playing with much more energy and intensity than in previous games and took the lead in the 75th minute. Allison hit a quick long clearance down the middle, Salah shrugged off Joao Cancelo and made no mistake this time.
In the closing minutes Klopp raced down the touchline in a fury after referee Antony Taylor did not award a foul for a clash between Salah and Bernardo Silva. Klopp was duly sent off and was thus absent from the pitch as his players celebrated in front of the Kop at the final whistle.