Manchester City hammered Liverpool by a five-goal margin this afternoon, with referee Jon Moss heavily and controversially involved.
Pep Guardiola’s side, who had not beaten Klopp’s Liverpool in three previous attempts, were fortunate not to find themselves a goal behind when Mo Salah got in behind Nicolas Otamendi, who was already on a yellow card having cynically pulled the Egyptian winger down ten minutes previously.
Salah had a chance to square to Roberto Firmino, but elected to shoot, forcing a save from Ederson. In truth, it should have been a goal with the final shot a poor one with nowhere near enough power to find the corner of the net.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has had a fantastic start to the season playing at right back, was having a tough time against Kevin de Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy, and found himself in the book too when he gave the ball away easily and fouled the Belgian schemer outside the box, after he had got on the wrong side.
The first twenty minutes were even, with the game threatening to come to life, and it duly did. Liverpool gave the ball away cheaply, passing straight to De Bruyne, who played a perfect pass to Sergio Aguero to round Simon Mignolet and score into an open goal.
Ragnar Klavan was caught out of position leaving a gap, and players of that quality were always going to exploit it.
Liverpool responded well, and Sadio Mane ran at the Manchester City defence, always a weak-point there to be got at, before being hauled down from behind by Fernandinho.
Emre Can’s free-kick was placed horribly wide, but the Reds would come again.
Mane released Salah inside Otamendi soon after, and the Egyptian ran through again, this time not placing his shot wide enough of Ederson, who made a simple save.
The score remained 1-0, but it seemed a matter of time before the equaliser came.
Ragnar Klavan handed Manchester City a chance when he dallied too long on the ball, but Jesus could not make the most of the chance, but for a sustained period apart from that, Liverpool were comfortable.
That comfort, though, would soon change, thanks to referee Jon Moss.
Sadio Mane sprinted away over the halfway line and attempted to latch onto a ball over the top, with goalkeeper Ederson miles outside his penalty area. As the ball hung in the air, the Senegalese caught the keeper as he lifted his boot to control the ball.
A foul was given, but no one inside the Etihad Stadium could have foreseen what was to happen next. Referee Moss gestured to Mane that he wanted to speak further regarding the foul, but then produced a red card.
Ederson was clearly injured, and was later stretchered off the field of play, but there was no malice on behalf of Mane. A yellow card would have been sufficient, but Mane was sent on his way, with Klopp incensed on the sideline.
Moss had clearly been influenced by the injury to Ederson, which should have had no bearing on his decision.
Down to ten men, the away team had no chance against the top quality they were playing.
Jesus had a goal disallowed for offside into stoppage time, but three minutes later an almost identical scenario doubled City’s lead. Liverpool’s marking was non-existent, and the Brazilian nodded in.
At half-time, Salah was replaced by new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, no stranger to heavy defeats as an Arsenal player, and Liverpool lost all threat.
Mendy found Aguero early in the second half, but that was again correctly disallowed for offside.
Jesus then notched a second a minute later, with Aguero unselfishly squaring to his partner when through on goal.
Substitute Leroy Sane caused chaos against Alexander-Arnold, already on a yellow card and struggling against the pace and quality of the opposition, and he made it 4-0 in the 77th minute.
It was a powerful and clever finish, giving Mignolet no chance from close range, but Liverpool’s ten men were being carved open.
Sane scored another goal to inflict further pain on Klopp’s side with an exquisite strike from the edge of the box in second half added time, but the game had long been over.
What should have been a contender for the most entertaining game of the season transpired to be a one-sided affair, ruined by a refereeing decision described by former referee Mark Clattenburg as “a yellow card at best”.
Manchester City momentarily go top of the table, but Liverpool must put the heavy defeat behind them quickly, with Sevilla next up at Anfield on Wednesday.
Simon Mignolet, 7 – not at fault at any of the goals, and made a save from Aguero that could have made the scoreline even worse
Trent Alexander-Arnold, 4 – played some poor passes and looked lost at times; a game to forget, and quickly
Joel Matip, 5 – far too casual in possession and not commanding enough, albeit in difficult circumstances
Ragnar Klavan, 4 – the shock inclusion had a shocking game; positionally all over the place and completely out of his depth
Alberto Moreno, 6 – by no means his worst Liverpool performance, but part of a backline that massively struggled under significant pressure; he was not directly at fault, but has to take some of the blame
Jordan Henderson, 5 – too many loose balls and not enough defensive contribution, but had City’s midfield all over him; simply overran at times and not helped by his teammates
Emre Can, 5 – also lost the ball many times and looked a shadow of the player he was before the international break; one of those who lost heart a little sooner than expected
Gini Wijnaldum, 3 – one of those games where you wonder whether he was even playing; superb against Arsenal, too, but he just could not kick on
Mohamed Salah, 6 – the best attacking outlet until he was replaced at half-time, but wasteful in good areas; needs to be far more clinical
Roberto Firmino, 6 – a tough afternoon, but he did quite well for periods; never the right kind of player when you need someone who can hold the ball up but he did his best
Sadio Mane, 6 – the red card was incredibly harsh and we will never know what the outcome would have been had it not taken place; had caused problems for City with his pace until that point and looked a real menace
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (46th minute sub.), 6 – a very difficult game for a debut, but he did little wrong; nothing he could do to stop the slide
James Milner (58th minute sub.), 6 – bizarrely booed whenever he touched the ball; helped keep the ball a little bit but there was nothing he could do to change the game at that point
Dominic Solanke (67th minute sub.), 7 – some very good holding up of the ball relived some pressure, but very hard against a back three when up top on his own; he did what he could and won;t have to face this sort of game too often
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