Once the curtains were drawn to a close at Anfield, the home fans could finally breathe, cheer and comprehend the spectacle they had witnessed.
Liverpool welcomed Manchester City to their beloved Anfield and served up a three-goal course, with goals from Fabinho, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane sending them eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The visitors tried to mount a response and got a goal back. By that time however, the writing was already on the plate, Liverpool were home and dry – seemingly, running away unhindered to the Premier League title.
Don’t let the score-line fool you, however. The reigning champions actually took their opponents to the wire in the first half. Pep Guardiola will rightfully feel aggrieved. He’s gone winless at Liverpool’s home bastion for six games and felt that the tide was against him with the loss of his ace custodian Ederson before the game.
It didn’t help either that the discussion will be centred on a very controversial handball decision in the build-up to Liverpool’s opening goal, by Trent Alexander-Arnold. The former Barcelona coach seemed aghast at numerous decisions by the referee and vented his frustrations.
But there’s one important fact the Spaniard must comprehend – without Aymeric Laporte or Ederson, his City side suffered irreversibly. John Stones, once a revered English talent, seems a shadow of himself now. Kyle Walker too, looks bereft of any sort of form - his goal and assist last weekend seeming more of an anomaly.
De Bruyne and Aguero did link up well, but never successfully contributed to reducing the deficit. The latter particularly seemed intent on ending his Anfield goal drought and missed a couple of gilt edged chances that perhaps his teammates were in better positions to cover. The highlight for Guardiola will be the performance of Angelino.
Liverpool though astute in attack, seemed to be on the back foot for long periods of time in the first half. The Citizens were the better team. The Kop’s favourite team however, were extremely opportunistic and seemed to play by Jurgen Klopp’s game plan to the recipe. An early lead allowed them rest their nerves.
For all their attacking and pressing prowess, the 18 time champions’ wide players seem to be playing like perfect wingmen. The home side’s second and third goals were thanks to the labours of their fullback and auxillary winger respectively, proving pin-point crosses.
Klopp will also be happy with the performance of much marginalized defender, Dejan Lovren, the self-titled ‘best defender win the world’ seeming unimpeachable by the dazzling attack facing him.
Ultimately, now with a healthy nine point buffer between them and their arch-rivals, Liverpool will head into the international break, with their heads high and hopes of a first title in the Premier League era.
For City, the season is still a long one, but they’ll wonder if their crown still rests with them or has been successfully wrested from them in this encounter.