Ger McCarthy picks out the key moments from Manchester City's 2-1 win over Liverpool.
11 millimetres from glory
Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match assertion the Premier League leaders would have to withstand a Manchester City ‘thunderstorm’ failed to materialise for much of a frenetic opening half. Instead, it was the visitors who came within 11 millimetres of breaking the deadlock in the 18th minute.
Having absorbed City’s early pressure, Liverpool counter-attacked with Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah’s intricate footwork releasing Sadio Mané. The Senegalese international slipped a shot underneath the outrushing Ederson only to see his effort rebound off the base of an upright.
John Stones' attempted clearance ricocheted off Manchester City’s goalkeeper but the English international defender did superbly to hack the ball off the goal-line as Salah prepared to pounce. That missed opportunity represented a huge let off for Pep Guardiola’s side and preceded a dominant Liverpool spell in which their failure to score was punished by the defending champions.
Sublime strike from Aguero
Manchester City enjoyed one of their brightest periods shortly before half time and punished their opponents’ profligacy with a superbly taken goal. Leroy Sané’s initial burst into the corner of the Liverpool area forced Alisson into his first save of the evening.
Sergio Aguero appealed for a penalty following an altercation with Virgil Van Dijk before another City advance had Liverpool’s defence scrambling to clear for the second time in a minute. The hosts capitalised on Liverpool’s inability to clear and Bernardo Silva got to the by-line before pushing a low cross towards the corner of the six-yard box.
A split second was all Sergio Aguero needed to ghost past Dejan Lovren and thunder a sublime shot into the roof of the net from the tightest of angles. The Argentinean’s seventh and most crucial Premier League goal at home to Liverpool.
A deserved equaliser and winner
A breathtaking game as Sane's strike closes the gap at the top of the tableJanuary 3, 2019
Both of Liverpool’s full-backs were prominent in a move that delivered a deserved equaliser just past the hour. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s second cross-field pass in as many minutes helped unlock City’s defence.
The English international’s pin-point delivery allowed Andy Robertson to drift into the penalty area and flick the ball back across the six-yard box. An unmarked Roberto Firmino caressed a diving header into the back of the net to silence the home crowd.
Yet, a marvellous contest had one more twist when Manchester City retook the lead after 71 minutes. Raheem Sterling’s run deep into Liverpool territory ended with perfectly-weighted pass into Leroy Sané’s path. The German international’s low left-footed shot flew in off a post to hand Manchester City a lead - despite a few late scares - the champions would never relinquish to reopen the Premier League title race.