“It was the most exhilarating second half that fulfilled the expectations of the fans across the globe”


The buildup of the match between Liverpool and Manchester City had to have the hype and obviously the hype was fantastic. To be honest, let us just describe the hype as magical. The Clash of the Titans cannot reach the level of epic proportion if there is no dose of magic and Anfield dished out the perfectly perfect magical contest that would etch in our memories for a long time – that is the level of a contest at Anfield.

The beauty about this showpiece is that it features two teams who are utterly committed to displaying their style of football – an amalgamation of fluidity, compactness and attacking intent – let just go out there and find a way to win rather than hanging around.

Jurgen Klopp had his XI fixed and surfaced a strong unit that would be boosted by the support of the fans, while Pep Guardiola was still flirting with the number nine position – he would stick to his false nine concept – neither Phil Foden nor Gabriel Jesus, but it was Jack Grealish – the left-sided attacker who had not previously played in the position for City and it was a struggle to remember whether he had done so for his previous club, Aston Villa, either.

Grealish relishes the challenge and it seemed Pep had drilled him well since the Champions League defeat against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

In the first 45 minutes, the new position of Grealish surprised everyone including Klopp himself.

The game revolved around him as City won the duels and was controlling the game.

Their dominance up to the interval was almost total.

Maybe Guardiola’s move simply scrambled Liverpool.

City made repeated inroads up the left through Foden.

Klopp had persisted with James Milner at right-back in the place of the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold and his experience at Anfield today was not chummy. He was eventually booked on 42 minutes after hauling down Foden, having been beaten by him yet again.

City’s big chance of the first half followed an incredible piece of skill by Bernardo Silva, who executed a 360-degree spin that, at various times, took him past each of Liverpool’s three midfielders.

The Portuguese then cut back inside Fabinho and the centre-half, Virgil van Dijk, before playing in Foden – Alisson made a vital one-on-one save.

City created pockets of space regularly and got behind the spaces of the defenders.

Liverpool were not without nervy moments and they were surviving.

City had plenty of other openings before the break with the pick of them being a Kevin de Bruyne header at the far post from Foden’s cross, which he sent high.

A moment earlier, Foden had wanted a penalty after being checked by Milner – the contact seemed to come outside the area; strangely, there was no whistle for anything – and Alisson would also deny Foden after a long ball from Ederson, leaving his line and throwing out a leg to tackle him.

Klopp injected life in his unit and after the break, the Reds burst into life.

The team started to switch positions quickly and accelerated with the ball at their feet. The domination at the midfield was won and the linkup with the forwards took a wonderful synchronization. The flanks started to become more active and with the tempo gained momentum with the vociferous crowd behind them.

Diogo Jota threw two City defenders on the edge of the area with a jink but not a third in Rúben Dias and he did then spin away from the City centre-half after a Van Dijk pass only to see Ederson save his shot.

Then Mohamed Salah beat Joao Cancelo and skated clear up the right before ushering in Sadio Mane with a lovely pass. Mane’s acceleration was too much for Dias and the finish was lethal.

Pep swapped Grealish with Raheem Sterling who got that forward line back on track – Jesus made a wonderful run from right to left, broke down the Red wall and passed to Foden, who arrowed a clinical left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Liverpool would not just sit quiet, rather they would respond with an absolute jaffa by Salah!

The Egyptian King received the ball on the right-wing, surrounded by City players, and immediately he started to run in a manner as if he was solving mathematical problems.

Salah held off Cancelo, ignored a little push from Foden, dragged the ball past Bernardo Silva and then chopped away from Laporte in the area. By then the angle was extremely tight, but he pinged an emphatic shot with his right foot that beat Ederson and nestled in the far corner.

Outrageous goal after a mazy run!

City would not bog down that easily – Foden was again involved in the move, breaking into the area from the left. His fast, low cross was diverted ingeniously by the under-pressure Walker, back towards De Bruyne on the edge of the area. He curled a left-footed shot that hit the chest of Matip, who was trying to block, and flew into the net. It was on target so it was De Bruyne’s goal.

The match would end 2-2, but it was not just about the goals, rather it had so many memorable chicky moments.

At first, Rodri made a saving block to deny Fabinho after Ederson had missed a Salah cross – the City goal was gaping – and then Raheem Sterling, on as a substitute to the usual jeers, led a break only to lack conviction. He passed to Gabriel Jesus, whose shot was blocked. Van Dijk and Fabinho shielded the backline and interfered in producing crucial blocks.


Lastly, Guardiola and Klopp embrace warmly after the end of the match. Pep had calmed down a bit since his blistering meltdown, and both teams would be happy enough with a point – Liverpool because they were totally outplayed in the first half, City because they went behind twice. It was the most exhilarating second half that fulfilled the expectations of the fans across the globe.

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