Four goals were scored in a frantic second half as Liverpool improved after halftime, though there was big variation in the quality of the Reds’ individual performances
Liverpool 2-2 Man City
Premier League (7), Anfield
October 3, 2021
Goals: Mane 59′, Salah 76′; Foden 69′, De Bruyne 81′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
Despite one poor clearance which led to a City chance, he was one of Liverpool’s better players.
He was called upon to save from Foden as Milner was having trouble with City’s rotating left wingers.
He also intervened with a good tackle when his compatriot and opposite number Ederson played a booming ball over the top to put Foden in.
James Milner – 5
Started promisingly but soon fell away as the first half progressed. Finished the half with a booking that seemed inevitable.
He was lucky not to get a second yellow for a foul on Bernardo Silva in the second half and was subbed shortly after.
Had little support from the midfield and was too often isolated, despite Klopp commenting earlier in the week that whoever played right-back would have support from teammates.
“Whoever plays there should be protected by at least two players in a right-back situation,” said Klopp. That’s a centre-half and a midfielder, and a winger in an ideal world.”
It certainly wasn’t an ideal world for Milner throughout this game and was lucky not to give away a penalty for a foul on Foden which started just outside the box.
Some of his crossing was good and he won a clever free-kick in one situation with Foden, and his drawing of a foul from Cancelo, resulting in a booking for the Portuguese, helped Salah from that moment on.
He did as best he could in the circumstances in what was a fairly predictable outcome for the 35-year-old given the lack of support he had.
Joel Matip – 7
City gave him space to run out of defence with the ball and he did so regularly, but it was a line-breaking pass to Jota through that space that was one of his highlights in his game, resulting in Liverpool’s first shot on target.
He was involved in the second City goal, awkwardly deflecting Kevin De Bruyne’s shot past Alisson who would likely have saved it otherwise.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
A fairly steady performance from the Dutchman who wasn’t really involved in major flashpoints.
He finished the game with a tidy 92 per cent pass success, including seven out of 12 long passes completed, which reflected his role in Liverpool’s build-up play.
Andy Robertson – 6
Not the most convincing performance in terms of his effect on Liverpool’s attacking play, but was one of the team’s leaders and contributed to the change in attitude in the second half.
Fabinho – 6
Like most of the midfielders in this game, he was unable to take control and had few involvements in the first half.
Had a chance to score late on when presented with a chance but had his shot blocked by Rodri.
Jordan Henderson – 5
Went in at halftime with a pass success of just 50 per cent and struggled to take control in the midfield position Liverpool needed someone to do just that.
Was one of the players guilty of not offering support to Milner, mainly because he himself was having difficulty in his own role.
Looked leggy defensively as the game wore on and couldn’t quite catch up to the pace of the game in or out of possession.
Curtis Jones – 6
Was generally neat and tidy after running up a couple of blind alleys early on, but couldn’t step up to the next level and offer that something extra you might expect from the most attacking of the three midfielders.
A nice bonus for him is that he gets the assist for Salah’s wondergoal!
Mohamed Salah – 10
Two moments proved the Egyptian is the best player in the world right now.
The first was a dazzling run down the right wing leaving Rodri in his wake before sliding a pass through for Mane to score.
You’d think it couldn’t be bettered, but Salah had other ideas.
He scored the second Liverpool goal after dribbling past half the City team and finishing the chance himself.
Diogo Jota – 6
Barely touched the ball in the first half, but had Liverpool’s first shot on target at the beginning of the second.
Shortly before that, he had sent two City defenders sliding in the opposite direction as he faked to shoot, but unfortunately, a third defender wasn’t fooled.
Sadio Mane – 8
The timing of his run and the route he took was key to the opening goal, giving Salah the angle to play him in.
His finishing has been hit and miss in recent weeks, generally more miss than hit, but he made no mistake in this big moment.
He showed he can still be one of Liverpool’s best and most important players in big games.
Roberto Firmino (on for Jota, 68′) – N/A
Was a difficult game to come into and Firmino couldn’t really get involved in his 25 minutes on the pitch.
Joe Gomez (on for Milner, 78′) – N/A
Replaced Milner at right-back with 15 minutes to go, and might be glad he wasn’t thrown in earlier given the way City targeted an area where Liverpool’s squad is weak behind first choice Alexander-Arnold.
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Ran down the tunnel as the half time whistle went, eager to get his players in for the half time team-talk after a poor first half.
Though Klopp might be partly blamed for the way his team played in the first half, he should take huge credit for the way they came out in the second.
The players raised their level and this encouraged the crowd in turn.
You have to wonder how many of the problems Liverpool had in this game were due to Guardiola’s tactics setting the tone, knowing how Liverpool would play and reacting accordingly.
He was perhaps lucky Milner wasn’t shown a second yellow prior to being replaced by Gomez. Switching Jota and Firmino didn’t alter the game much.