The Reds were back at Eastlands once more, and the night started with some big, but unsettling rumours that Javier Mascherano had refused to play against Man City. It has been confirmed, since then, that he “was not in the right frame of mind to play”.
This same fixture last year resulted in Liverpool and City playing out a very dull 0-0 draw – but this time it wasn’t the case, as Man City proved their Premier League mettle by beating Liverpool by three goals to nil.
Liverpool started on the front foot, retaining possession and creating attacks, but unfortunately the closest they went in that spell of dominance was Torres being crowded out in the City box when attempting to strike for goal.
City stepped up a gear after the early warning shot by Liverpool and soon began to run the game in midfield. On 13 minutes, they got the goal they wanted when Milner put Johnson through, and the England international pulled it back for Gareth Barry to hit home. Lax defending by Liverpool, and Agger in particular.
It was really all City from then onwards in the first-half, with Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson trying shots from distance, but never troubling Reina.
Whenever Liverpool did get possession, the Reds could never do anything with it – with Kuyt, Johnson and Lucas in particular giving the ball away countless times whilst trying to find a red shirt.
Liverpool’s first shot-on-target came on the 35th minute, when N’Gog was played in by Torres to the right of the box. The Frenchman took a shot, but it was never going to trouble Hart who easily gathered.
Man City were unfortunate not to be 2-0 up from a corner that Micah Richards narrowly headed wide – it was yet another let-off for Liverpool, and you wondered how many let-offs they’d need before actually playing some football.
Half-time quickly approached after a dominant City schooled Liverpool in the first-half. Liverpool needed to improve, and improve quickly.
The second-half did start quite well for Liverpool, with the Reds able to retain possession and mount some good, sustained attacks on the City back-line, although it was unfortunate that nothing came of the attacks.
City eventually went 2-0 up through a Milner corner, which Micah Richards headed down and Tevez poked through the legs of Reina. Liverpool needed something, or someone magic now.
Gerrard was almost that person when Liverpool were on the attack yet again – the ball dropped at his feet no less than four times, and each time he took a shot and went close, and it eventually deflected out for a corner which resulted in nothing.
Liverpool tried to keep the pressure on City and almost got a goal back when Hart made a fabulous stop from N’Gog, and when Torres followed up with the rebound, Hart also managed, somehow, to stop that. Liverpool were unlucky not to have clawed back a goal that could have changed the match.
City were rampant though, and eventually had a penalty given their way when Agger lost Johnson, and Skrtel tried to make up for that by lunging in on the England international. Tevez buried it into the bottom left-hand corner of Reina’s goal. Liverpool looked utterly deflated now.
Even with Liverpool bringing on Babel and Pacheco for Torres an Jovanovic in the latter stages, all they could muster was a single shot-on-goal by Babel which was easily saved by Hart.
The final whistle couldn’t approach quickly enough. When it did the scoreline proved that Liverpool, for once, were outclassed.
City were as good as the Reds were bad tonight.