LIVERPOOL 3 MAN CITY 2
It was the day Manchester City lost control of their own title destiny in the Barclays Premier League following a dramatic defeat at Anfield.
Suddenly Liverpool find themselves in pole position as they will be crowned champions for the first time since 1990 if they win their four remaining games.
It was hugely disappointing for City who pegged back a 2-0 deficit as a draw would have left them as title favourites.
However, a costly mistake by Vincent Kompany handed Liverpool victory as Philippe Coutinho struck the match-winning goal which could prove a pivotal moment in the race for the championship.
It was certainly a day to forget for City captain Kompany, who had been a pre-match injury doubt after picking up a knock in training earlier in week as he was culpable for all three Liverpool goals.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini certainly hasn’t conceded defeat and believes there will be further twists and turns in the title race.
“If we win our two postponed games we will be one point behind Liverpool who still have to play Chelsea. There are a lot more games before the end of the season,” he said.
Liverpool, significantly, will lose key midfield man Jordan Henderson for three of those games through suspension while prized striker Daniel Sturridge limped off injured so could be another absentee.
There was a tide of emotion at Anfield even before a ball was kicked as there was one minute’s silence of the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough 25 years ago this week.
Luis Suarez, book early on for a reckless challenge on Martin Demichelis, provided the defence-splitting pass for Raheem Sterling to put Liverpool ahead after only six minutes as he turned Kompany with a swivel of his hips.
This was the first time this season City had conceded a goal in the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League game.
Liverpool were rampant in the opening stages as Sturridge glanced a header wide and Steven Gerrard’s header was brilliantly saved by Joe Hart.
City’s troubles increased when Yaya Toure limped off with a knee injury and then they conceded a second goal midway through the half when Martin Skrtel glanced home a near-post header from Gerrard’s corner.
It was the central defender’s fifth goal in the last 10 Premier League games as Liverpool were on complete control.
City finished the half strongly, though, as Edin Dzeko may have won a penalty and Glenn Johnson had to clear David Silva’s header off the line after keeper Simon Mignolet failed to catch a Jesus Navas cross.
James Milner replaced Navas soon after the restart and immediately helped spark the fightback when his cross was converted by Silva.
Suddenly City were rampant as Liverpool were forced to defend for their lives before the equaliser came in the 62nd minute when Silva’s shot was deflected off Johnson and crept past Mignolet at his near post.
City were lucky not to concede a penalty following a blatant push on Suarez by Kompany. It was a case of crying wolf as the striker had been tumbling all match trying to win a spot kick.
Silva had a great chance to put City ahead and complete a remarkable comeback, but shot just wide.
It was to prove a costly miss as Kompany’s sliced clearance with 12 minutes left found Brazilian Coutinho who scored with a terrific drive to the left of Hart.
There was still more drama as Henderson was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Samir Nasri while Liverpool were lucky not to concede a late penalty after a clear handball by Skrtel.
It was clear at the end what the win meant to Liverpool and Gerrard in particular as he has never won the Premier League title.
He said: “I am emotion and lost for words. We have to keep calm as there are still four games to go.
“It meant so much, but nothing has been won yet. This is our biggest statement so far.”