Phil Foden, 20, is the youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Liverpool at Anfield
Manchester City took a potentially decisive hold on the Premier League title race as they thrashed Liverpool at Anfield – helped by a virtuoso performance by Phil Foden and a nightmare display from the champions’ goalkeeper Alisson.
City’s comprehensive triumph, their first at Anfield since 2003 and manager Pep Guardiola’s first away to Liverpool as a manager, was achieved in such comfort that they were able to recover from Ilkay Gundogan’s first-half penalty miss.
Gundogan, who skied his spot-kick after Fabinho fouled Raheem Sterling, made amends when he put City ahead four minutes into the second period, after Alisson could only push out Foden’s shot.
Mohamed Salah equalised for Liverpool from the spot just after the hour after he was hauled back by Ruben Dias – but then came the combination of Alisson’s errors and Foden’s genius as the hosts were run ragged.
Alisson was punished for two poor clearances as Foden set up Gundogan to put City back in front after 73 minutes, then three minutes later the Brazil keeper inexplicably sent a pass straight to Bernardo Silva, whose clever cross was headed in almost on the goalline by Sterling.
City saved the best until last when Foden, the game’s outstanding performer, thundered a magnificent finish high past the beleaguered Alisson seven minutes from time.
The emphatic victory leaves City five points ahead of second-placed Manchester United, having played a game less – and 10 points ahead of Liverpool with a match in hand.
Payback time for Guardiola and Man City
Manchester City and Guardiola have had some miserable days and nights at Anfield since Jurgen Klopp became Liverpool manager – this was the game, the performance and the scoreline that made this almost the perfect day.
Guardiola’s incendiary reaction to Gundogan’s first-half penalty miss demonstrated how much he wanted to win this game and perhaps how he feared history repeating itself. But his frustration was short-lived as City produced a second-half masterclass that left the champions badly beaten.
Raheem Sterling scored for the third successive game for Manchester City
And while the Reds will point to their collection of injuries as a reason for their fall from grace, it should also be pointed out that City were missing the brilliance of midfielder Kevin de Bruyne and the predatory instincts of striker Sergio Aguero.
It was only a rare error from Dias that gave Liverpool hope – although Sadio Mane headed over in the first half and Ederson saved well from Roberto Firmino – and once Gudogan restored City’s advantage there was only one winner here.
At the heart of it all was the brilliant Foden, head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch and flourishing even more when Guardiola cleverly removed Riyad Mahrez and placed the 20-year-old England international on the right flank.
He made two goals and scored a sensational fourth as City put down a marker and confirmed their status as the team to beat in the title race. It was also a 14th straight win, which equals the all-time winning run by an English top-flight team, shared with Preston in 1892 and Arsenal in 1987.
City have been growing in stature in recent weeks, imperious in defence and threatening in attack – but this ruthless dismissal of an opponent that has haunted them at Anfield in the recent past is their most powerful statement of intent yet. BBC