LIVERPOOL 4, MAN CITY 3
Manchester City won’t be invincibles after suffering their first Premier League defeat of the season at Liverpool.
But Pep Guardiola’s side almost pulled off a remarkable recovery as, 4-1 down with six minutes left, they appeared down and out.
Late goals from substitute Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan set up a pulsating finish in which Sergio Aguero so nearly scored an equaliser at the death on the ground where they have won only once since 1981.
This was City’s first domestic defeat since April when they lost at Chelsea while for Liverpool they are now unbeaten in 18 games in all competitions, their best run since Jurgen Klopp took charge.
Klopp has now beaten Guardiola five times, more than any other manager. And his team played some mesmeric football to open a 4-1 lead with goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Guardiola congratulated Liverpool adding the defeat reinforced how much his team had achieved this season.
He said: “I would have preferred to win and losing is never good news, but all teams lose games.
“It is important not to lose in the next game, and that is against Newcastle.
“We will analyse our mistakes and why we lost, but sometimes you have to give credit to your opponents, and Liverpool played well.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was delighted, saying: “It could be historic as it may be the only game they lose this season as they are an outstanding team.
“We deserved it and I am really, really happy because we respect the quality of our opponent. You need a really good football team and thank God we had one today.
“It was a joy to watch and a nice commercial for the Premier League. If somebody didn’t like football and saw the game they would say that’s why you watch it.”
Guardiola added that having played so many games it is difficult to maintain the level of performances they have been producing.
Guardiola made six changes from the midweek Carabao Cup semi final against Bristol City.
There were recalls for Ederson Moraes in goal, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi and Fabien Delph in defence, Fernandinho in midfield and Aguero up front.
Liverpool had mixed news as record buy Virgil Van Dijk was ruled out through a tight hamstring, but top scorer Salah returned after missing two games through a groin strain.
City scored a victory before kick off by winning the toss and forcing Liverpool to attack their favoured Kop in the opening period.
Liverpool fans booed former player Raheem Sterling from the start every time he touched the ball.
But they were cheering when Oxlade-Chamberlain gave them a ninth minute lead.
Oxlade-Chamberlain broke past Fernandinho in midfield and from 22 yards fired low to the right of Ederson, his fourth goal since a summer move from Arsenal.
City responded with a couple of sniffs at goal as Kevin De Bruyne’s cross just eluded Aguero as he slid in to try and make contact inside the six-yard box and then Leroy Sane’s effort was deflected for a corner.
There was an injury scare for City as Delph went down but, with Guardiola having Danilo on the touchline ready to replace him, the player insisted on carrying on.
But after bravely carrying on for several minutes, Delph had to concede defeat and was replaced by Danilo.
De Bruyne forced a comfortable diving save from Loris Karius as City struggled to create clear-cut chances.
City equalised out of nothing four minutes before half time when Walker’s long crossfield pass to Sane on the left caught out Joe Gomez.
The German winger skipped inside Gomez and rifled in a fierce near-post shot past Karius for his 10th goal of the season.
City suddenly came alive and a long-range drive from Fernandinho flew not far wide.
And they started the second half positively as Otamendi headed against the crossbar from Sane’s corner.
Liverpool enjoyed a great minute in which they had three chances to take the lead, but Ederson denied Salah twice and Oxlade-Chamberlain as it remained all square.
And they regained the lead just short of the hour after Emre Can released Firmino who brushed past John Stones before chipping Ederson for his 17th goal of the season.
Mane then bent a shot from the edge of the box that beat Ederson, but struck the upright.
It got even better for Liverpool as they added third goal in the 62nd minute after Otamendi was caught out as Salah charged down his clearance and released Mane who, from the edge of the box, rifled an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net, his 22nd of the season.
Liverpool were on cloud nine and not long after added a fourth goal.
Ederson raced out of his area to clear, but only as far as Salah who lobbed the keeper from 40 yards into an empty net, goal 24 of a remarkable debut season.
City made their first changes with 19 minutes left as Sterling, who had been given a torrid afternoon by the home fans, was replaced by Bernardo Silva.
And Silva reduced the deficit with six minutes left.
Ilkay Gundogan played a one-two with Aguero. His shot was blocked but ran free to Silva who swept it home from 10 yards.
And in the first of four minutes of added time they made it 4-3 when Sane made a fine run and Aguero provided the cross for Gundogan to fire home from six yards.
And it was almost 4-4 with the last play of the game when Aguero met a De Bruyne free kick at the near post but saw his excellent header flash into the side netting.