• Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City, Premier League

Liverpool seize control of title race

ESPN staff
April 13, 2014
Raheem Sterling brilliantly kept his head to outfox the Manchester City defence and put Liverpool in front © Getty Images

Liverpool put themselves firmly in the driving seat for the Premier League title with a stirring and undulating victory against Manchester City at Anfield.

The home side looked to be strolling to victory as first-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel put them in command. However, City fought back with David Silva instrumental in the second half, scoring one goal and producing the equaliser off a Glen Johnson deflection into his own net.

However, Philippe Coutinho pounced on a mistake by City captain Vincent Kompany - who had been a doubt pre-match with an injury - to sweep Liverpool back ahead with on 77 minutes, sealing a victory that means Brendan Rodgers side are the only team who can win the Premer League title by winning their remaining matches.

Liverpool swept into the lead on six minutes when Luis Suarez did a fine job of holding off Martin Demichelis then playing a through ball to Sterling, who delayed his shot, looked inside for a pass then shimmied to allow himself the simplest of finishes beyond a stranded Joe Hart in the City goal.

Yaya Toure was soon forced off with a knee injury sustained when dragging a long-range shot wide and City were soon reeling from another setback as they fell 2-0 behind. Steven Gerrard forced a fine save from Hart with a free header, but from the resulting corner, Gerrard swung in a cross that Skrtel glanced unstoppably beyond the City goalkeeper.

Philippe Coutinho could have added to Liverpool's advantage but decided to shoot from the edge of the box when he had options left and right in better situations and City began to get more of a foothold in the game as the first-half wore on. Sterling and Mamadou Sakho combined to clear off the line in a goalmouth scramble from a corner, before Fernandinho brought a fine save out of Simon Mignolet with a flying volley.

David Silva was instrumental in City's second-half fightback © Getty Images

Suarez, who had been booked in the opening five minutes for a late challenge on Martin Demichelis, could have seen another yellow card flashed in his direction early in the second period when he jumped over a challenge from Demichelis with little to no contact made. Referee Mark Clattenburg did not award a free kick to Liverpool but also chose not to book Suarez for simulation, much to the dismay of City's protesting players.

City had the ball in the net on 55 minutes but substitute James Milner had let the ball run too far and out for a goalkick before squaring for David Silva, who tucked the ball home only to see the assistant referee's flag raised.

Moments later, City did score. Again it was Milner on the right flank, linking up with Fernandinho and then squaring low for Silva to score from almost exactly the same spot he had only a minute earlier.

Silva was now in inspired form and he almost created an equaliser when first his shot was blocked and then from the rebound he provided a low cross that only just evaded the outstretched boot of Edin Dzeko.

It was, then, no surprise when City equalised on 63 minutes. Silva was again the architect but his low cross from the left took a huge deflection of Glen Johnson, wrong-footing Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal and the ball spun into the net in front of a silenced Kop.

Suarez tumbled in the box under a challenge from Kompany but no foul was given. An injured Daniel Sturridge made way for Joe Allen as Liverpool's problems mounted, while on the flip side Sergio Aguero was welcomed back into action for the first time in over a month as he returned from injury as a substitute for Dzeko.

Silva almost had his second of the match with 15 minutes to go. Aguero wriggled free on the left and centred the ball for Silva, who managed to get a toe on it but not enough to steer it into the bottom corner.

However, Kompany's costly mistake allowed Coutinho to swivel an incredible low finish beyond Hart at full stretch with 13 minutes to go.

Liverpool's day was dampened in the third minute of injury time, though, when Jordan Henderson miscontrolled in midfield then lunged into Samir Nasri, leaving referee Clattenburg with the simple decision to send Henderson off. It was Liverpool's first red card in 83 matches.

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