Manchester City inflicted Liverpool’s first Premier League defeat of the season to resurrect their title defence with a 2-1 victory at the Etihad on Thursday.
City now trail Jurgen Klopp’s men by just four points thanks to Leroy Sane’s winner 18 minutes from time after Roberto Firmino had cancelled out Sergio Aguero‘s first-half opener for the hosts.
A run of nine straight league wins had given Liverpool a commanding lead at the top of the table as they edged towards a first top flight title since 1990, particularly after City suffered back-to-back shock defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester to begin the festive season.
With no more league meetings between the sides to come, Liverpool’s destiny is still in their own hands, but they will now have the pressure of having a City side that romped to the title with a record 100 points last season on their tails.
Despite City’s early dominance of possession, it was Liverpool who looked the more assured, and only the finest of margins denied the visitors the lead on 19 minutes when Sadio Mane burst onto Mohamed Salah’s pass and saw his shot come back off the inside of the post.
Liverpool’s defence was then breached when City managed to free Aguero from Van Dijk’s shackles, the Argentine marksman beat Dejan Lovren to Bernardo Silva’s cross before firing into the roof of the net to score for the seventh time in seven home league games against Liverpool.
Despite a combination of nerves and fatigue at the end of a gruelling festive period, the game truly came to life in a pulsating second-half after the Reds drew level.
One Liverpool full-back picked out another as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross was met perfectly by Robertson to square for Firmino to head into an empty net.
Sane came to the party and sent the Etihad into rapture when he latched on Sterling’s pass before firing in off the far post.
Alisson pulled off a brilliant save from Aguero as the Argentine tried to round him at the end of a blistering City counter-attack led by the impressive Sterling.
Moments later it was Ederson’s turn to make a huge save by denying Salah as tempers flared with Guardiola furious a free-kick wasn’t awarded City’s way before the Egyptian broke clear.
Fernandinho and Sterling then blew chances to but the result beyond doubt, but the hosts kept their cool to see out a tense five minutes of stoppage time.