Liverpool produced a stunning opening half an hour of football to take control of their Champions League quarter final against Man City.
Liverpool 3-0 Man City
Champions League Quarter-Final First Leg, Anfield
April 4, 2018
Salah 12′ (assist – Firmino)
Oxlade-Chamberlain 20′ (assist – Milner)
Mane 31′ (assist – Salah)
Having beaten Maribor, Spartak Moscow and Porto, Wednesday night presented Liverpool’s toughest European clash of the season as Man City arrived at Anfield for Liverpool’s’ first Champions League quarter-final in nine years.
The Reds won one and lost one against Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League this season, but a two-legged Champions League quarter-final serves as a much different proposition.
With the majority of his senior squad fit and firing, fresh off the back of Saturday’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, Jurgen Klopp named a strong lineup, setting his sights on a first-leg advantage.
Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Ragnar Emre Can, Ben Woodburn and Adam Lallana missed out through injury, but Klopp was once again able to field the 75-goal trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Having won seven of their last 10 games, the Reds headed into the midweek meeting in great form, and were buoyed by incredible scenes on the approach to Anfield with thousands greeting the arrival of the team bus.
- Klopp makes 2 changes from side to beat Palace
- Blistering starts sees Salah net within 12 minutes
- Oxlade-Chamberlain doubles lead with 25-yard stormer
- Mane header seals 3-0 lead heading into half-time
Guardiola opted to play Aymeric Laporte at left-back, up against Mohamed Salah – and it was from there that the Reds scored the opening goal.
Salah raced down the right, set up Firmino, whose shot was saved by Ederson, but there was Salah to twist and finish from close range.
If the atmosphere inside Anfield wasn’t already electric, it was now.
And it was about to get even better. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain unleaded a thunderous strike that flew past Ederson at the Kop end in the 21st minute, 2-0.
Allez, Allez, Allez rang out around all four sides of the ground.
Liverpool had City rattled and completely dominated the champions-elect. Ederson, Kompany and Otamendi all played balls straight into touch as Guardiola’s side struggled to cope with Klopp’s side producing the most ‘heavy metal’ football Anfield has seen under the German’s guidance.
It was 3-0 on the half-hour, with Salah again key down the right. His cross was headed home by Mane at the back post.
Minutes later there was almost an incredible goal for Andy Robertson as the left-back, whose name was sung regularly throughout, went on a surging run, eventually getting inside the City box and able to just get off a shot off. It was blocked, but it would have been a stunning solo goal.
And there was almost a fourth goal in first half stoppage time, when Virgil van Dijk’s header from Milner’s free kick flew just wide at the Kop end.
Half-time after a breathless opening 45 saw the Reds 3-0 ahead.
The second half saw City begin to dominate the ball more and there was an early blow for Liverpool when Salah was forced off through injury five minutes after the break. Gini Wijnaldum replaced the No.11 and Oxlade-Chamberlain moved into the attack.
Guardiola introduced former Liverpool player Raheem Sterling in place of Ilkay Gundogan in an attacking move, as Liverpool, understandably, struggled to replicate the intensity and attacking impetus of the first half.
City had all the ball but struggled to create any meaningful chances as Liverpool defended resolutely and fought for every single ball.
The crowd carried the team into the final exchanges, and it was Liverpool who almost scored on a counter when substitute Dominic Solanke set up Mane.
Henderson picked up a booking which rules him out of the second leg next Tuesday.
TIA Man of the Match: Andy Robertson
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
Next match: Everton (A) – Premier League – Saturday, April 7
* Additional reporting by ISNTV.