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West Ham United
3 January 2012
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: M. Jones
• Attendance: 47131
S. Agüero 10'
Y. Touré 33'
J. Milner 75'
Well it looks as though the break of just 48 hours since their loss at Sunderland didn’t hinder them at all and City have a very well earned three points to separate themselves at the top by more than just goal-difference. Liverpool’s brightest spells came at the end and too late for the visitors who just couldn’t add any sort of conviction to their attacking play. Both sides will feel hard done by in terms of the penalty, with Dalglish most likely defending Skrtel’s challenge on Yaya Toure that didn’t look to show much contact, but Mancini will not be happy losing Gareth Barry to a second yellow, only to see the Slovakian let off for the spot-kick. That’s all from Goal.com’s coverage of this game, we hope you enjoyed it and see you next time.
That's the final whistle and City get back their points gap at the peak of the Premier League.
90' + 3'
Downing gets a shot on target, but Hart denies him for a second time tonight and Liverpool don’t look like getting anything from this game.
90' + 1'
Four minutes of stoppage time to play.
Another half-chance for Liverpool as Maxi again gets his foot to the ball from close-range, but the pressure from his marker see the attacker’s shot go wide once more.
Liverpool see a fair amount of the ball on the edge of the City area, playing the ball nicely and Maxi finds a chance to get a shot away, but it was never going to be on target and was too rushed as it goes wide.
Gerrard has an effort from distance at the opposite end and goes closer than most thought he would as the midfielder’s shot drifts agonisingly past the far post.
Adam Johnson hits the post and almost makes it four to City. Reina was pretty much beaten from the winger’s long-range effort and the hosts certainly feel look right now.
So a fast turn for both sides, as Liverpool got their hopes up no doubt with Barry’s dismissal, but City’s almost instant spot-kick has lost this game for the Reds as if it wasn’t a losing battle already for Dalglish’s outfit. On an additional note, Skrtel is very lucky not to have been shown a red for his supposed challenge on Yaya Toure.
Assist Yaya Touré
Penalty Goal James Milner
Gooooaaaallll!!! Milner converts the penalty and the recently made 10-men have all but won this game now. Skrtel’s foul may not have been concrete, but the defender’s movement toward the Ivorian was never going to help him and that’s it for Liverpool you feel.
Now it’s a penalty to City, as Skrtel brings Yaya Toure down on a storming run, but the decision looks harsh!
Yellow/Red Gareth Barry
Gareth Barry is off!!!! The midfielder receives his second booking of the night and his night has come to an early end.
The fouled player takes the set-piece and it comes to nothing.
Barry body-checks fellow England team-mate Gerrard and Liverpool have a good looking free-kick opportunity.
Injury break here as Milner and Glen Johnson collide.
Some more of Greg Stobart's thoughts: "The heavens have opened again and no-one looks quite as wet as a sodden Kenny Dalglish, who as spent most of the second-half deep in conversation with his assistant Steve Clarke. The game has largely followed the same pattern as the first-half, with Liverpool seeing more than their fair share of the ball. The visiting fans, housed to my right, certainly seem encouraged and are making all the noise as the home crowd start displaying a few signs of nerves."
City seem happy to allow Liverpool a look at the ball and it’s no surprise in some respect as the Reds cannot do anything of any value with it. However, the hosts must keep in mind their loss on Sunday and how just one move can change their game.
Here’s Liverpool taking the impetus by bringing on a duo of substitutions in Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy. The Reds obviously wanting a little more attacking spirit up top and will know too well how efficient it worked in their last outing.
Yellow Card Glen Johnson
Liverpool have pushed at City quite well in these opening stages, with Kompany being forced on numerous occasions already to clear the ball out of the Blues’ area.
Greg Stobart reports from the ground: "We're back underway for the second-half after some light entertainment provided during the break by Sun Jihai, the former City defender. Dressed in a raincoat and glasses, he looked more like a professor than an athlete but was given a rousing round of applause from the City fans."
A long cross from Glen Johnson evades Carroll, but Liverpool have looked slightly more encouraging in the first two minutes of this half
And we're back underway.
Here’s Greg Stobart’s thoughts so far: “An entertaining half comes to a close with a City fan turning to me and saying 'easy' – but it has been far less simple than the scoreline suggests. The first 45 minutes was even both in terms of general play and chances created, but Liverpool have been punished for poor finishing and even worse defending. Pepe Reina will take most of the blame for Sergio Aguero's opener, but the Argentine was allowed to pick up the ball 25 yards from goal only after Dirk Kuyt conceded possession in his own half, while the Reds' marking for Yaya Toue's header was abject. Liverpool will feel they are still just about in this game, but will know that the next goal is absolutely vital.”
City definitely the dominant side in this game, but Liverpool seemed to be getting their act together before that second goal and instead allowed their opponents all the advantage they would ever want going into the break. Too many mistakes have cost the Merseyside outfit so far and will need to regain some concentration before the return to the pitch because it’s game over if the hosts score again.
And that's half-time.
Yellow Card Gareth Barry
Liverpool nearly find some respite from close range, with Kuyt getting on the end of a miss-guided header from Carroll, but Vincent Kompany blocks the ball brilliantly and spares City’s blushes.
Silva gets the honours to take a free-kick from 25 yards out, but the former Valencia man can’t keep his effort down.
City are bossing the game now with the second of their goals easing the pressure and allowing for their football to be calm. Liverpool are being made to run between each pass and look almost desperate to get one back before the break.
It should be said that Reina made a great save to give City that corner, but the Ivorian gave him no chance in getting his hands to the shot in time. Glenn Johnson is a man that will carry some of the blame after failing to get goal side of the towering midfielder after letting him run off in front and get his head to the ball.
Assist David Silva
Goal Yaya Touré
Goooaaaalllll!!! Yaya Toure doubles City’s lead with a great header from a corner that sails past Reina and his defenders on the line. Liverpool looked to be putting themselves into the match well, but one more chance from the hosts is converted and the visitors are sinking.
Greg Stobart reports from the Etihad Stadium: “'One Pepe Reina' chant the cheeky Manchester City supporters towards the Liverpool goalkeeper as the action finally settles down following a pulsating first quarter of the game. City have looked reasonably comfortable since the goal now but Liverpool look a threat when they get forward, despite only creating one genuine chance, which Stewart Downing failed to convert. Roberto Mancini certainly doesn't look too happy, though, and he has just called over Micah Richards for a gentle piece of advice on how to handle Downing.”
A big shout from Aguero for handball by Skrtel in the area, but is only backed by the City fans behind and replays show the defender was not in the wrong.
The possession stats show Liverpool are really starting to come into this game now. Although little has been done from open play, Dalglish’s side have definitely pushed City into their own half more and more as the half has progressed.
Adam forces a good save from Hart as a result of the Scot’s free-kick from 25 yards out, with the England international getting down well to keep it out.
A shot from Dzeko is nearly deflected into Reina’s corner, with the ‘keeper fully committed to the opposite side, but Agger’s touch puts it out for a corner. Nothing comes from the set-piece.
The Reds enjoy a rare spell of time in the City third, with a corner being won as a result, but again no Liverpool player looks entirely sure what to do when on the ball and allow the hosts too easily to regain possession.
Not much confidence being shown from this Liverpool side at the moment; the ball is getting forward on occasion, but nothing is done to test their opponent’s defence.
Our man Greg Stobart has some thoughts on the opener from the hosts: “The Etihad Stadium is bouncing to 'the Poznan' and the Manchester City fans are crowing with delight after Sergio Aguero's opener, with Blue Moon ringing around the ground. Kenny Dalglish stands glum-faced in his technical area and he will be furious with how easily City were able to take the lead. It was a howler from Pepe Reina to allow the shot to squirm underneath him while Dirk Kuyt was blasted by his team-mates for conceding possession in the build-up to the goal.”
Dirk Kuyt didn’t help matters there for his side, losing the ball close to his own area and it’s City’s record signing that took full advantage of the mistake and punished Liverpool.
Assist David Silva
Goal Sergio Agüero
Gooooooaaaaallll!!!! Aguero dips the ball in from distance below a rather poor Pepe Reina. The Argentine shot from outside the box and the Reds ‘keeper dives right over the ball to give City the lead in less than 10 minutes played.
At the other end Dzeko has his own effort from a tight angle, but his shot to Reina’s far corner is kept out by the Spaniard for a corner, from which City fail to impress from.
Downing goes close for Liverpool, but the winger’s finishing lets him down. A wonderful ball through the left channel set up the former Villa man almost perfectly, but his tame effort on goal is easily kept out by Hart.
Pretty quiet start to the game, with City sitting on the ball well. Liverpool have had a few touches but nothing concrete from either side just yet.
Here’s the thought’s of our man in Manchester tonight, Greg Stobart: “Good evening from Etihad Stadium, where it is absolutely lashing down with rain as the Manchester City and Liverpool players warm-up. On a cold, windy night we are set up for a potentially stormy game as City look to recover from Sunday's defeat to Sunderland and Liverpool aim to boost their top four chances. All the talk in the press room before kick-off has, unsurprisingly, been about Liverpool's decision to accept Luis Suarez's eight-match suspension, which starts tonight and means he is not in the visitors' squad. The general consensus is that the Reds have handled the situation badly but tonight will bring a welcome opportunity for their fans to focus on events on the pitch. An interesting moment just before kick-off as the two sets of supporters engaged in a sing off, with City fans launching into a rendition of Blue Moon while Liverpool supporters sang You'll Never Walk Alone. Both sets of players are wearing black armbands tonight in memory of Gary Ablett, which is a nice touch.”
And we're off.
Not a particularly good source of pacethen for the visitors, with Andy Carroll on his own up front and the striker still has a lot to prove as his season has failed to get off the ground pretty much all season. With Gerrard starting once more on the bench, Liverpool will have to hope that Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing can supply the Newcastle native.
Here are the teams in full, starting with City: Hart, Richards, Kolo, Kompany, Clichy, Yaya, Barry, Silva, Milner, Aguero, Dzeko Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, A. Johnson, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Savic, de Jong Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Spearing, Adam, Downing, Henderson, Kuyt, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Gerrard, Maxi, Carragher, Shelvey, Kelly, Bellamy.
Of course the big news today is that Liverpool have decided not to appeal against Luis Suarez’s eight-match ban and the game at the Etihad Stadium will count as the Uruguayan’s first of these. The Reds did pretty well without him on Friday night against the Magpies, but of course away at City will provide them with a higher level of competition.
Roberto Mancini’s side won all nine of their games at home in the opening half of the season and drew just once, leaving Liverpool a hard task to break. The Citizens won this fixture 3-0 last season, but in the past 13 games between this two, that was the only victory for tonight’s hosts.
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com’s live coverage of this Premier League fixture between Manchester City and Liverpool. High flying City were undone on their travels on Sunday, with Sunderland taking advantage of the north west outfit’s missed chances and punished the Blues by converting one of their own right on the death. Kenny Dalglish’s side meanwhile are coming off a big win against Newcastle United and was a victory that finally saw them win at home after a flurry of matches on home soil that ended in disappointing draws.
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