MANCHESTER: Premier leaders Manchester City threw away the advantage of a perfect as they tumbled out of the Champions League – not only losing their quarter-final to Liverpool but suffering the embarassment of another defeat in front of their own fans.
City had lost at home to Basel in the second round but cruised through and then collapsed at home more dramatically to neighbours United in domestic competition at the weekend. Now they succumbed to a third successive defeat by 2-1 against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool who thus competed a 5-1 aggregate triumph.
Liverpool hit back despite conceding a goal in the opening exchanges by Gabriel Jesus and, to add to City’s woes, manager Pep Guardiola was sent to the stands for protesting.
City thought Raheem Sterling should have had a penalty when he clashed with Andrew Robertson and Bernardo Silva hit a post in the 41st minute. Their sense of injustice was exacerbated when what could have been a crucial goal by Leroy Sane was wrongly ruled out for offside just before the interval.
Guardiola stormed onto the pitch at the break to harangue Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz and was duly dismissed.
Liverpool looked a different side after the break and secured the vital away goal through Mohamed Salah 11 minutes into the second half.
That effectively killed the game off even before Roberto Firmino scored his ninth European goal of the season to win the game and send Klopp’s men into the semi-finals.
Klopp said later: “We scored five against Man City and only conceded one. These numbers are usually not possible. The boys found a solution in the second half. We had two or three opportunities in the first half already, so it was easy for me and the boys to see the development of the game. We had come through the whirlwind.”
Guardiola said: “I said [to the referee] that he was wrong. That is why sent me off. I didn’t insult him. I said it was a penalty and the ball came off Milner. It is different 1-0 to 2-0. In these kind of games the impact is so big.”
But he had no complaints about the overall result, adding: “Big congratulations to Liverpool. They are a top team with an outstanding manager. Liverpool deserved to go through.”