Liverpool’s march towards their first league title in twenty-four years showed no signs of slowing down as they overcame Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield.
Goals from Raheem Sterling, Martin Skrtel and Phillipe Coutinho helped Liverpool to a tenth consecutive league victory and left Manchester City with a mountain to climb if they are to lift the Premier League trophy in May.
The afternoon began with a minute silence for the 96 who died in the Hillsborough disaster, twenty-five years ago this month. 60,000 fans also poured their respect out in song as a full rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ giving the day an emotionally charged backdrop.
However, the home side showed no signs of letting their emotions get the better off them as they got off to a flying start. Luis Suarez muscled Gael Clichy off the ball impressively before slipping in Sterling who outfoxed both Hart and Kompany with a sharp turn and placed the ball safely into an empty net.
Suddenly the pre-match tensions and fears dissipated for Liverpool as they hunted down a second, passing the ball neatly and crisply up front to trouble an already rattled City defence. Kompany, who was already struggling for match fitness, and Demichelis struggled to cope with the pace and dynamism of Liverpool’s attacking quartet of Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho.
Indeed, Liverpool’s attacking endeavour was further rewarded when Skrtel scored a superb glancing header from a Steven Gerrard corner.
Manchester City showed character and resilience after half-time as they tried to get themselves back into the game. Those attributes were epitomised by the industrious substitute, James Milner, who came on and within minutes set up David Silva to pull it back to 2-1.
For the first time, Liverpool looked genuinely troubled and they failed to withstand the pressure as Silva engineered another more attacking wizardry as he pulled the ball back for it to hit Glen Johnson and slide past Mignolet at his near post.
Anfield was deflated and it looked as though this enthralling match may have been swinging in Manchester City’s favour until Coutinho pounced marvellously on a sliced Kompany clearance to curl the ball into the bottom corner and deliver all three points for Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers knows now that the title is in Liverpool’s hands. His team passed another huge test as they took a massive leap towards their first league title since 1990.