Manchester City blew the title race wide open by inflicting Liverpool’s first defeat of the season with an engrossing 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.
Sergio Aguero proved the scourge of Liverpool again with a clinical near-post drive – his seventh goal in seven home appearances against the Reds – at the end of a frenetic first half, which saw Sadio Mane strike the post and John Stones hook his own deflected clearance off the line with millimetres to spare.
Roberto Firmino headed Liverpool level on 64 minutes but the lead lasted just eight minutes as Leroy Sane cannoned the winning goal in off the post at the end of a flowing counter.
The victory sees City, who were simply not willing to relinquish their title without a fight, reduce Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table to four points and leaves the Premier League title race delicately poised.
The highly-anticipated clash between the champions and the challengers did not disappoint. City flew out of the traps early on, setting the tone for a pulsating half, but the better chances fell for Liverpool.
Firmino slipped Mane through on goal after 18 minutes and his low strike cannoned off the post. Stones then fired his clearance into Ederson, sending the ball looping back towards goal, where the England international miraculously recovered by hooking the ball off the goal-line.
Having weathered the early City storm, Liverpool pounced on the chance to go forward again as Virgil van Dijk’s diagonal ball was brilliantly hooked back to the edge of the area by Andrew Robertson, and Mane lashed a volley straight at Ederson.
Appeals for a City penalty were waved away on 40 minutes after Aguero clashed with Van Dijk but sought their own retribution seconds later as the Argentine skipped away from Dejan Lovren and lashed a stunning drive past Alisson at his near post from a tight angle.
Liverpool hit back just after the hour as full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson combined on opposing flanks and the left-back’s brilliant cross was nodded home by the unmarked Firmino at the back post.