After three games Manchester City remained unbeaten with a draw and two wins to make the tally. The results, however – a hard-fought 2-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, a 1-1 draw at home against Everton and an unconvincing 2-1 win against Bournemouth – did not speak much in favour of the Citizens’ title challenge.
Against Liverpool though, at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, City’s campaign took off spectacularly as the hosts dismantled the Reds 5-0. This, after the visitors had made a promising start to the match.
Buoyed by the 4-0 win against Arsenal the previous match day, Jürgen Klopp’s team had entered the tie as the team in a better attacking form. And surely, in the opening minutes, the speedy Mohamed Salah made a few tormenting runs past City defender Nicolas Otamendi. The Egyptian’s best chance of scoring came in the 22nd minute, when Salah got the better of his marker but his finishing shot was a tame effort.
Two minutes later, Kevin de Bruyne executed a defence splitting pass at the other end. Sergio Aguero gathered the through ball with a first touch that took the ball around the rushing Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, and a second to side-foot home. It was the Argentine’s 124th league goal, making him the most prolific non-European goalscorer to have played in the Premier League, as he broke former Trinidad and Tobago striker Dwight Yorke’s record of 123 goals.
Aguero’s strike also gave him a goal in all his six home Premier League appearances against Liverpool. It made him only the fourth player to score against a single team in six consecutive home matches – Alan Shearer against Everton, Thierry Henry against Aston Villa and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink against West Ham United.
The game changing moment, however, came in the 37th minute when Liverpool’s striker Sadio Mane was sent off for a high-boot challenge that caught the cheek of City’s goalkeeper Ederson. A lob from defence had the Senegalese forward sprint ahead while also inviting Ederson off his lines. Mane attempted to tip the ball over the keeper and did not pull out of the challenge, but Ederson managed to get a clearing header first.
Without Mane, Liverpool’s attack was left significantly depleted. At the same time, City had begun controlling the ball better and making sharper runs into the box. Gabriel Jesus doubled the lead deep into stoppage time, thanks to a sublime assist from Kevin de Bruyne, before further extending the lead in the 53rd minute. It was the 14th goal Jesus has been involved in from his last 12 Premier League starts (scoring 10 and assisting four).
Substitute Leroy Sane netted a brace himself to account for final score, which was the first time City scored five against Liverpool since 1937. The result also temporarily took City to the top of the League table.