Liverpool 3 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 13 April 2014, 13.37 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure (Garcia 19), Fernandinho, Navas (Milner 50), Nasri, Silva, Dzeko (Aguero 68)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Negredo, Kolarov
Goals: Silva (57), Johnson (og 62)
Booked: Garcia, Fernandinho, Zabaleta

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the Match: James Milner

Hart organises his defence.

Hart organises his defence.

The afternoon at Anfield kicked off seven minutes late as a mark of respect for the 96 fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989 – and the minutes’ silence was well observed by both sets of player and fans. It was a fitting tribute for the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

The visitors were behind early on and it was the hosts who had put them under pressure from the off. Suarez played a neat through-ball for Sterling to run in behind Kompany and, facing Hart on a one-on-one, side-stepped past the goalkeeper and slotted it into the net. City couldn’t have asked for a worse start.

It was almost two after 15 minutes, as Clichy was too easily beaten by Sterling on the right flank and the youngster whipped in a cross behind the City back four. Kompany couldn’t reach it and Sturridge – free in the middle – side-footed it wide. He was stretching, but should have done better. It did get worse for the Blues, though, as Toure had to leave the pitch injured.

Gerrard should have doubled Liverpool’s lead – and he had done everything but beat Hart, who produced a brilliant reaction save to touch the free header over the bar. But from the resulting corner, Skrtel escaped Kompany and flicked the ball into the net. City had a mountain to climb.

City were denied a penalty on the half hour when Dzeko was brought down by Sahko, but the referee decided there was no foul, as the Bosnian over-egged his fall. It was a poor call from the official. Coutinho should have made it three from a breakaway, but he dragged his shot wide.

Mignolet was then bailed out by Johnson, as he came for the cross and missed it, with Dzeko heading towards the empty goal – the full back nodded off the line and it looped up onto the bar. As City broke back again after Hart claimed the ball back, Navas crossed for Fernandinho to volley, but the goalkeeper got down well to push it away.

With 52 minutes on the clock, Suarez should have been shown his second yellow. Demichelis dived in on the forward, but missed the ball and missed the man, yet the striker dropped to ground clutching his foot. He’d dived, the referee saw it, but didn’t show the yellow card – instead giving a goal kick. He bottled it.

City dug deep and dragged themselves back into the game. A good series of passes worked the opening on the right flank and Milner – via a one-two with Zabaleta – got in behind to square for Silva. The Spaniard dinked the ball into the net, past the desperate dive of Skrtel, who tried to slide it off the line.

The visitors twice came close to equalising minutes after their goal: First Silva caused trouble in the box as Skrtel miss-kicked a clearance, before the Spaniard drilled a low cross towards Dzeko. The Bosnian, though, couldn’t connect as he threw himself at it.

City did get their equaliser, though, just after the hour mark. Silva and Nasri linked up down the left flank and the Frenchman played the Spaniard in. He drilled it into the box once more and it ricocheted off Johnson and sent Mignolet the wrong way – it followed a great challenge by Zabaleta, who won the ball from Sturridge with a last-gasp tackle in the box.

With 15 minutes to play, City were inches away from getting in front. Aguero rolled Skrtel on the left flank and drove towards the box. Instead of taking the shot on, he played it in for Silva in the middle – the Spaniard had to dive to reach it, but he couldn’t turn it into the net.

Two minutes later, though, City hit self-destruct. The Blues were in control of the game, but a throw-in was miss-kicked by Kompany straight to Coutinho. The Liverpool man hit it first time and curled it around Hart into the bottom corner. City had it all to do again.

In stoppage time, the away side were denied a penalty when Skrtel punched the ball clear, before Henderson over-ran the ball and dived in on Nasri as the Blues tried to break again with possession. The Liverpool man went in with a straight leg and was rightly dismissed, but City felt the red card should have come at the start of the second half, not the end – it came too late to change the game.

Manchester City 2 Liverpool 1

FA Premier League
Thursday 26 December 2013, 17.30 KO

City: Hart, Kolarov, Kompany (c), Lescott, Zabaleta, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva (Garcia 87), Nasri (Milner 72), Navas, Negredo (Dzeko 77)
Unused: Pantilimon, Clichy, Nastasic, Boyata
Goals: Kompany (31), Negredo (45+1)
Booked: Zabaleta

Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Fernandinho

Silva skips away from a challenge.

Silva skips away from a challenge.

Given City’s previous home games this season, many were expecting a high scoring game as Liverpool rocked up at the Etihad. However, both Pellegrini and Rodgers opted for more cautious set-ups and it was a strong performance from the home side to take the points.

The Blues settled the quickest – Navas flicked a header onto the bar, before Kompany got in front of Skrtel at a corner, but could only nod it wide.

The visitors responded: Suarez flicked a corner wide of Hart’s post, and Kolarov was needed to put in a last-gasp tackle in the box as Sterling raced through – that chance came as Zabaleta’s short pass was picked up in the middle.

The flag wrongly went up against Sterling – who rounded Hart and netted, though the City keeper had stopped, before the away side did open the scoring. Some good work set Sterling through and he rounded Hart, leaving Coutinho to slot into the unguarded goal.

The lead lasted five minutes. A left wing corner was curled into the box and Kompany rose highest to connect. The effort skipped past Mignolet and his defender on the line and the Blues were level.

City should have added their second almost instantly – Nasri and Silva combined to release Navas following a Liverpool corner, but the winger blazed over.

Hart produced a fantastic save from Coutinho with five minutes of the half to play: The Liverpool man found space in the box to shoot, but the England keeper stood up and spread himself to block.

With the fans readying themselves for half time, the Blues took the lead with virtually the last kick of the period. A decisive breakaway saw Navas feed Negredo early and his shot – with the outside of his left foot – should have been saved by Mignolet. But he flapped at it and it bounced over the line.

As the hosts started the first half the better, it was the visitors who began the second with more purpose. Suarez stung the hands of Hart, after Henderson had fired over. City were inviting the pressure and dropping deep; Liverpool were obliging.

The home side’s best chances came from set pieces or breakaways. Kompany headed at Mignolet from a corner, before Negredo spotted the Belgian keeper off his line and tried a chip – but it didn’t quite have enough height.

Soon, City were again on the back foot. Hart saved well from Henderson’s back-heel flick, before Suarez crossed low and everybody in the box missed it, as the visitors sought their equaliser. The leveller should have come through Sterling, as he got away from Kolarov to connect to a Suarez cross and – with the goal virtually unguarded – he skied it.

Suarez curled a free kick over with five minutes to play, before he riled the City fans by going down theatrically in the box under pressure from Lescott. It was enough for the hosts to hack the ball clear and ease the pressure to see out their second win of the festive period.

Manchester City 2 Liverpool 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 3 February 2013, 16.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta (c), Nastasic (Kolarov 56), Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Garcia, Barry (Nasri 88), Silva (Maicon 74), Dzeko, Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Rodwell, Sinclair, Tevez
Goals: Dzeko (23), Aguero (78)
Booked: Dzeko, Garcia

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the Match: James Milner

Liverpool1Following a United win at Fulham yesterday, City went into the game knowing nothing less than a win would be good enough. And they went for the jugular, with Silva teeing himself up for a volley just 30 seconds into the game and forcing Reina into a good save to tip it over the bar. But if the home fans were hoping this would start something, they were to be sorely disappointed, as the blues ended up second best pretty much for most of the game.

With 13 minutes played, Hart came racing off his line to confront Sturridge and misjudged the bounce of the ball horribly, leaving the former City striker to take it around the goalkeeper. Fortunately for the hosts, though, Zabaleta was on the line to clear, as Hart was stranded. Shortly after, Suarez should have done a lot better when Sturridge’s pull back found him free in the box, but he sliced his shot almost out for a throw in.

Somewhat against the run of play, City got themselves in front. Milner broke well down the left flank and drove a great low cross into the box. Neither Agger nor Reina could do anything about it and it left Dzeko with a simple job to steer the ball into the back of the net from inside the six yard box.

But on the half hour: Controversy. Agger clearly fouled Dzeko, who was left in a heap, but the referee and linesman ignored it, while Liverpool played on, choosing not to play the ball out. The end result was a long shot from Sturridge, flashing past Hart into the bottom corner. City didn’t defend it well enough, while Dzeko picked up a yellow card for his protests about the foul in the build-up.

With half time approaching, City’s defending was summed up by a breakdown in communications. Hart came out to collect a loose ball in the box, while Zabaleta played it back towards the City keeper. It rolled straight past Hart, but fortunately for the home side, straight past the post and behind for an easily preventable corner.

The second half changed little. City were still second best all over the pitch, despite Milner’s low cross nearly sneaking in at the back post as it missed everybody in the box. Sturridge picked up a yellow card for a daft dive under a challenge from Lescott, before he tried to speed past Milner. But the England international wasn’t in a mood for giving in and stole the ball from the Liverpool man and cleared his lines.

Liverpool pressed and, despite failing to test Hart in the City goal, were looking the more likely to score, while the blues looked like a team of players who had never met each other. Passes were going astray, while Hart was flapping at most of what came into the box.

With 73 minutes played, the inevitable happened and the visitors took the lead. City, again slow out after clearing the first ball, allowed Gerrard time to control from 25 yards. And, after chest-trapping the ball, he unleashed a viscous volley straight into the bottom corner. Hart was helpless and City were toothless, Liverpool fully deserving the be in front.

The lead lasted five minutes, thanks to a moment of individual brilliance. Aguero raced through to nick the ball ahead of Reina and take it a yard past the Spanish keeper. Despite being on the right flank and on a tight angle, he half-volleyed the ball into the bottom corner of the unguarded goal, from the edge of the box. It was a fantastic finish.

With stoppage time approaching, Maicon had the chance to steal all three points for the blues, as he headed over from a left wing corner. At the other end, it was Hart who saved City’s blushes with a terrific save from Sturridge, tipping the ball onto the post as the striker hit another effort from range. Agger picked up the rebound, but couldn’t force it home. Liverpool pressed for the winner, while City hung on grimly for a point.

But now nine points behind United, a point wasn’t good enough. It’s looking increasingly like United’s title.

Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 26 August 2012, 16.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), K Toure, Kolarov, Milner (Silva 76), de Jong, Y Toure, Nasri (Rodwell 60), Balotelli (Dzeko 62), Tevez
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Savic, Razak
Goals: Y Toure (63), Tevez (80)
Booked:

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta

The opening action of the game saw both sides scrapping for possession. Gerrard had the first two efforts at goal, but both were skewed well wide. Liverpool were dealt a very early blow, as they lost Lucas to injury after just four minutes. Kolarov had City’s opening effort, direct from a free-kick from 30 yards, but it was straight at Reina.

With 17 minutes on the clock, the home side should have gone ahead. Borini beat Kolarov to a cross in the box and tried to touch it past Hart at the near post. The goalkeeper was beaten, but the effort was off target. It would have come against the early pressure. Down the other end, Tevez managed to steal in before Reina and got the ball across the face of goal. It bounced off the inside of the post and back across the line to the goalkeeper.

Balotelli did well to steal the ball from Coates on the edge of the Liverpool box with some hard work to close him down, before he was brought down on the corner of the area. Nasri stepped up to whip the free kick at the back post; Reina came for it, missed, but so did Tevez behind him and it drifted behind.

Just after the half hour, Liverpool were almost in front after a Gerrard cross from deep was met by Kompany on the stretch. He could only get a toe to it, but fortunately for City it flashed over the crossbar and behind for a corner. But, from that corner, Gerrard found Skrtel’s run and he powered a header past Hart. City hadn’t made the most of their time on top of the game and Liverpool had.

City were struggling to settle early in the second half. Kolo Toure was lucky not to give away a free kick on Sterling, before he passed it straight out of play. Zabaleta was sold short in the middle and couldn’t recover, but the ball through to Suarez in the area from Borini was too far ahead of him and his poked shot dribbled wide of the target.

Balotelli was then in Kompany’s way as he came back to help ease the pressure on the back three; the Belgian tried to clear it but it hit the heels of the Italian and bounced to Suarez. His cross, though, was flicked away by Kolo Toure. City couldn’t get a foothold in the game at all and Rodwell was introduced to try and get the away side more of the ball.

The changes helped the visitors: Tevez was found by Milner on the right hand side and he crossed into the centre. Reina came and missed the cross, leaving it to bounce off Kelly’s shins and fall to Yaya Toure. He spun and fired the ball over the line, with the goal unguarded. It was against the run of play, but City were level.

Immediately, though, City were back behind. Rodwell was unlucky to concede a free kick 25 yards from goal, as he blocked a shot from Gerrard on the slide; he made the block with his foot, but it ricocheted up to his arm. Suarez took the kick and Hart was beaten to the bottom corner. It was harsh on City, who had questions about the decision.

With ten minutes of the game remaining, Martin Skrtel handed Carlos Tevez the chance to equalise. He passed it back to Reina blindly and the City centre-forward intercepted it en route. He kept his cool, took it around the goalkeeper and slotted it into the back of the net. Again against the run of play, but the blues weren’t complaining.

Liverpool looked to reply instantly again. Sterling held the ball up on the edge of the box and found Gerrard square. He knocked it down for Shelvy to shoot and his effort, from 25 yards, was just over the bar. It had Hart worried. Dzeko looked to get the visitors ahead, but his left footed shot was dragged wide.

With five minutes to play, City should have been in front. Kolarov drove a low cross into the feet of Dzeko after he was put through by Tevez. The Bosnian, though, could only steer the effort over the bar from inside the six-yard box. At the other end, Carroll was causing City problems, as Rodwell needed to rise to get his header off the line from a corner.

Get out of jail free card played by City.

Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2 (agg 3-2)

League Cup Semi Final Second Leg
Wednesday 25 January 2012, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Richards (c), Lescott, Savic (Aguero 45), Kolarov, Zabaleta, de Jong (A Johnson 78), Barry, Nasri, Silva, Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Clichy, Hargreaves, Milner, Rekik
Goals: de Jong (31), Dzeko (67)
Booked: Kolarov

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Joe Hart

It wasn’t a great start from the visitors, who gifted the hosts a chance to get themselves further into the lead with just six minutes played. Enrique though could only find Joe Hart, who saved well with his feet to keep the scores level on the night. It was all Liverpool in the opening stages, with every time City got the ball clear it came straight back at them.

With 22 minutes on the clock, Bellamy forced a good save from Hart, who got across well to push the ball away, after the former City forward had escaped the attention of Stefan Savic. Bellamy had the ball in the City net shortly after, but it was flagged offside and City weren’t in any deeper trouble.

However, it got better for the visitors and, against the run of play, they pulled the aggregate score level and took the lead on the night. Nigel de Jong picked the ball up from 25 yards out and, despite slipping, he managed to curl it around Reina and find the corner of the net. The scores were level and Liverpool’s away goal had been cancelled out from the most unlikely of sources.

But the lead didn’t last long. Micah Richards was adjudged to have handled a fierce drive inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. It was a very harsh decision – Richards blocked with his foot before the ball ricocheted up onto his arm and the ball was struck from three yards in front of him – but the referee waved away the protests and Gerrard slotted the spot kick home. Liverpool had been the better team, but City had been very hard done to at the break.

City switched to a more orthodox back four for the second half in an attempt to get more ball possession further up the pitch, but it was the hosts who had the first chance after the restart. Bellamy got in behind Lescott and crossed low for Kuyt, though Richards cleared. The rebound was struck straight back at goal and Hart could only parry, but Lescott was at the rebound first. Barry then smashed a shot straight over Reina’s bar.

A Gerrard free kick then caused Hart problems as he tried to punch, but could only put it on the foot of Martin Skrtel. The Liverpool centre-back shot at goal and the England keeper re-adjusted well to fingertip the ball over the bar. Hart was then on hand to block from Downing, after he was unmarked to volley Kuyt’s cross. City were penned in.

Kolarov then picked up a yellow card after he was on the receiving end of a late challenge from Jordan Henderson, before Bellamy once again got in behind Lescott, but Richards recovered to block the City old boy’s cross. Though, after Silva had wasted a free kick on the right flank, City re-took the lead, again against the run of play – Kolarov smashed a cross low and Dzeko got in at the back post to smash the ball home from inside the six-yard box.

But, just seven minutes later, Liverpool were back in front. A poor clearance from Lescott put the hosts back on the attack and a quick one-two between Bellamy and Johnson allowed the former City man to slide the ball past Hart, giving the England keeper no chance. City were once again behind on aggregate.

Edin Dzeko played a great ball towards Johnson to set the substitute free down the right flank with just under ten minutes to go to the whistle. Johnson, though, couldn’t get the ball onto his left foot to shoot quickly and his effort was easily collected by Reina. City were struggling to create anything and Liverpool were content to defend their aggregate lead.

With four minutes to play, Johnson found Zabaleta cutting in from the right flank and the Argentine’s low ball found Dzeko on the edge of the six-yard box. He turned and shot, but Agger blocked, with the City fans appealing for handball. The referee, though, waved away the protests. A last gasp chance from City wasn’t enough to retake the lead, as Aguero’s overhead kick from a long kick from Hart was straight at Reina.

City could feel hard done to with a fair few refereeing decisions, but they could have no complaints as to who was going to progress to the final – the visitors had given themselves far too much work to do after the defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City 0 Liverpool 1

League Cup Semi Final First Leg
Wednesday 11 January 2012, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Richards (c), Savic, Lescott, Clichy, de Jong (Kolarov 72), Barry, Milner, A Johnson (Dzeko 66), Balotelli (Nasri 39), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Onuoha, Hargreaves
Goals:
Booked: Nasri

Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Micah Richards

There were similarities with how this League Cup tie started and how the Premier League fixture began last week, in that it was the visitors who were the quicker out of the blocks. It needed Hart to pull off a good save from a one-on-one with Andy Carroll, as the striker turned Savic and closed in on goal. The City keeper then needed to push Gerrard’s effort from the edge of the box away for a corner, before he got down brilliantly to react to a deflection from a shot just inside the box.

With just over ten minutes played, though, a corner for the visitors earned them a penalty. The header was missed in front of Agger and he took a touch on his chest, before being brought down by Savic. There were no questions and the referee pointed to the spot; Gerrard dispatched the kick into the bottom left corner, with Hart unlucky not to get a hand on it.

After the goal, Liverpool seemed content to let City have the ball, especially as the hosts were struggling to create anything of note. Richards had a blast from a long way out blocked, with very little on around him, before the injured Balotelli was replaced by Nasri in an attempt to boost the home side’s creativity. He did, immediately getting City’s first shot on target from the edge of the box, though it was easy for Reina.

On the stroke of half time, City should have been level: Richards did well to power past Johnson and get into the box. He pulled the ball back for Milner, arriving on the penalty spot, but the midfielder got his shot all wrong and skied it well wide and well over the bar. It was looking bleak for City, who were clearly missing the spine of the team.

The second half got into a pattern pretty quickly: City struggling to keep the ball and break down the Liverpool defence and Liverpool happy to hold on to their advantage under no real threat from the hosts. Aguero intercepted Kelly’s short backpass, but Reina did enough to close the striker down, who wasn’t able to find the target. Richards then powered a header from a corner at the Liverpool keeper, and City couldn’t force it over the line.

With the clock running down, City introduced Kolarov and Dzeko to try and muster something else at the right end of the pitch, but in the final half hour Reina was barely tested. Crosses were going behind or bouncing through the box and shooting opportunities were few and far between. City needed something and it didn’t come.

To round of the home side’s frustrations, a two-footed tackle from Glenn Johnson on Lescott – arguably worse than Kompany’s on Nani at the weekend – went totally unpunished. It didn’t merit a red card, but having seen the City skipper sent off for a lesser offence and then having seen the appeal dismissed, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of the blues in the stands.

City have it all to do at Anfield.

Manchester City 3 Liverpool 0

English Premier League
Tuesday 3 January 2012, 20.00 KO

City: Hart, Richards, K Toure, Kompany (c), Clichy, Barry, Y Toure, Milner, Silva (Lescott 76), Aguero (A Johnson 73), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Savic, de Jong
Goals: Aguero (11), Y Toure (33), Milner (pen 75)
Booked: Barry
Sent Off: Barry

Referee: Michael Jones
Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany

The game began tentatively, with both sides feeling each other out in the rain at The Etihad Stadium. It was the visitors who had the first chance to take the lead, as Downing found himself through on goal with just Hart to beat. The England keeper was off his line quickly and made a brilliant block, to keep the scores level – and it turned out to be a very crucial save. Minutes later, at the other end, Aguero took a pot-shot from the edge of the box and Reina made a hash of it, letting the shot straight though him and into the back of the net.

Aguero had a cheeky attempt for his second, a minute and a half later, but his chip didn’t quite have the legs to get past Reina, before there was a let off with the Liverpool defence. Dzeko, with no support, took a shot on from the edge of the box; it took a huge deflection and spiralled just wide of the post, with the visiting goalkeeper having dived the other way, reacting to the first effort.

Charlie Adam was felled on the edge of the City box by Kolo Toure, as he looked to beat the City defender, but the resulting free kick was smashed into the wall. Reina then made up for his earlier mistake by denying Kompany City’s second, pushing the centre-back’s header over the bar from a corner. But he couldn’t keep out Yaya Toure’s effort from the next flag kick, as the midfielder nodded the ball past him and into the back of the net.

With half time approaching, Barry went into the book for a late challenge on Henderson. It wasn’t a popular decision, but probably the correct call after he caught the Liverpool midfielder after the ball had gone.

The second half began with the visitors pressing the home side’s goal – if they were going to get back into the game, they needed to score quickly. Carroll, though, wasn’t getting much joy against Kompany, who was winning the ball both in the air and on the deck. Milner clashed with Johnson in a challenge that left both players needing attention, but both were fine to continue.

But then, just as City were on the backfoot and the visitors were pressing, Barry gave Agger a nudge as the defender stepped around him. They were side to side and the Liverpool defender went down, and Barry earned a second yellow card with just under 20 minutes to play. It was soft, but equally it was a silly challenge to make, having not been punished for a couple of similar challenges earlier.

If that dampened the City spirits, though, the fans were lifted almost immediately. Yaya Toure broke from his own half with the ball and worked his way into the box. There, he went down as Skrtel tackled and the referee pointed to the spot. It looked very soft, however, with the defender making a clumsy challenge and Milner stepped up, finding the top corner.

With ten minutes to play, it could have been better for the blues, as Adam Johnson stuck the post with an effort from outside the box, before Gerard shot from the edge of the box. Hart dived for it, but it was off target, just missing the angle of post and bar. Then, in stoppage time, a great double save from Hart kept his clean sheet, as he blocked from Bellamy and got up to deny Maxi Rodriguez from the rebound. It was a good response to some poor Christmas form.