Liverpool went some way to avenging Sunday’s League Cup final defeat by putting a big dent in Man City‘s title hopes.
First half goals from Adam Lallana and James Milner put the Reds two ahead at the break, with Roberto Firmino adding a third early in the second half.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side refused to go easy on City and it could have been more, regularly testing Joe Hart throughout the second half.
Jordan Henderson almost made it four with a free-kick just before full time. In the end, 3-0 was a fair reflection of the game, a result that moves Liverpool up to eighth, with a game in hand on those above them in the table.
A clean sheet, three goals scored – and Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho rested. A nice night’s work.
Here’s five talking points from Anfield.
Fresh Reds, Tired City
Manuel Pellegrini made just three changes, meaning eight of his outfield starting XI played 120 minutes at Wembley just three days ago.
Klopp, on the other hand, made five changes – some where enforced (Lucas Leiva, Mamadou Sakho and Sturridge) – but by resting Coutinho and Alberto Moreno, Klopp had fresh legs in the side with Jon Flanagan and Adam Lallana.
City were frequently second to the 50-50 ball, showing tired legs from Sunday, perhaps.
Lallana, one of those coming into the side, was Liverpool’s key man, scoring the opener and setting up the third.
Desire and pressing
This was at times reminiscent of the 4-1 win at the Etihad earlier in the season, with Liverpool going at City and hunting in packs – especially at the start of each half.
There was a real desire to ensure victory was recorded after Sunday’s heartbreak. This was pressing that Klopp’s teams are renowned for, and another glimpse of the future for Liverpool.
Liverpool’s desire was there, whereas City – who needed a win to help their title challenge – looked completely off the pace and suffering a hangover from Sunday.
Playing for new deals
Two players whose contracts expire this summer were among those to impress for the Reds.
Flanagan, making his first league start since May 2014, set the tone early on with that challenge and made a superb interception to deny the former Liverpool attacker just before half time. Sterling was subbed at half time, much to the delight of the Anfield faithful.
Flanno hustled the City attack, giving them no time on the ball. His passing was also effective and precise. An excellent showing.
Meanwhile, Toure was again excellent at centre-back – despite playing most of the game on Sunday. He may be 35 later this month but he has been Liverpool’s most consistent centre-back this season. He says he wants to earn a new deal and he’s certainly showing he is deserving of one.
Speaking post-match Klopp said: “Moment of the day was challenge from Kolo Toure (on Aguero). Kolo! That was really not too bad!”
If Toure does leave, another Premier League club will acquire an excellent centre-back despite his years.
While Lallana will take the plaudits for his goal and assist, arguably Liverpool’s best player was Emre Can. The German was absolutely superb in midfield.
Standing up to challenges and making key interceptions, he was the driving force in midfield.
It’s easy to forget he’s just 22 years old and this is his first time playing regularly in centre-midfield. He’s Liverpool’s most used outfield player this season.
Emre Can 7/9 tackles, 16 ball recoveries, 52/65 passes all highest in the game, 2/2 take ons, 4 int, a chance created too
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) March 2, 2016
This is the type of performance the Reds must put in next week when the other team from Manchester arrive at Anfield on Thursday night.
Such a performance is needed in the first leg against United and would set up the return leg at Old Trafford nicely.
Before then Liverpool travel to Selhurst Park – not a happy hunting ground in recent times. A win there could see them get to within three points of United in the league – they face West Brom later on Sunday.
We shouldn’t get carried away with this one result, but perhaps the top four shouldn’t be written off completely just yet.
LIVERPOOL 3-0 MAN CITY
REPORT: Reds strike back in style at Anfield
REACTIONS: “Fantastic performance from all”
RATINGS: Can, Flanagan and Toure shine