Liverpool routed Manchester City Wednesday afternoon in the most anticipated Champions League game of the season. The Anfield crowd was treated to a 3-0 victory in the quarterfinals first leg with goals coming from Mohamed Salah (12’), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20’) and Sadio Mané (31’).
The score properly reflected the difference between the two sides Wednesday as Man City possessed the ball nicely in the game’s opening stages, but lacked a cutting edge and looked defeated after conceding. Coming off of a dominant performance against Everton last weekend, it was surprising to see Manchester City playing with such little confidence. Liverpool’s front three ruthlessly attacked this weakness and essentially ended the game in the first half.
The defining moment and best piece of quality play from the game was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s strike from just outside of the box for Liverpool’s second goal. The ball looked to be gaining speed when it hit the back of the net and Manchester City’s goalkeeper, Ederson, had no chance to make the save. James Milner’s aggressive win of a 50/50 ball in the buildup to the goal perfectly summed up the first half dynamic between the two teams. Liverpool was playing like they had nothing to lose and Manchester City was passive.
Tactically, Manchester City’s 3-4-3 formation was muted by the defensive setup of Liverpool. The Merseyside team packed the center of the pitch and did not let Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva find space in between their midfield and defensive lines. This gave City winger Leroy Sané free range to run on Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold, but the 19-year-old was up to the task in one of the best games of his young career.
January’s meeting between the two teams, which resulted in a 4-3 win for Liverpool, is the main reason for the heightened tension around Wednesday’s affair. These emotions boiled over pregame with Liverpool fans throwing flares at the opposing team’s bus on arrival, even breaking a window. Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp apologized for the actions of the fans, but punishment from UEFA is likely coming for the club.
Another setback today was the injury to Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, who was forced off with an apparent groin injury. Talking to Liverpool reporter David O’Donnell postgame, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp tried to lessen speculation about his star man.
“He said to me after the game, all fine, all good. I hope that is the case,” Klopp said.
Manchester City now faces an uphill battle in the Champions League. With league games upcoming against Manchester United and Tottenham, Pep Guardiola will most likely focus his squad selection on securing the league title.
The second leg between these two English teams is Tuesday, April 10, and a monumental effort from Manchester City will be needed to be victorious.
Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.