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Five things learned from Liverpool’s Man City destruction

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What an awful week for Manchester City.

What a marvelous moment for Liverpool.

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Job done

It feels a tad insane to call a four-goal margin of victory over two legs scrappy, but there was nothing simple nor easy about Liverpool’s stunning and complete defeat of the Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men were lethal against Pep Guardiola‘s bunch. If you were given the following stat lines before the tie, would you think it ends Liverpool 5-1?

Game 1: Man City 11-9 in shot attempts, 66 percent possession, 8-0 in corners

Game 2: Man City 20-5 in shot attempts, 68 percent possession, 9-2 in corners

Total corners, of course, is an incomplete stat, but there was simply no denying the Reds. They were compact, gritty, and scored on five of 14 shots. That’s bonkers, and it’s why we watch the games.

Momentous loss

Manchester City losing this tie at all would’ve altered the discussion on their legacy, but losing it 5-1 to drop three in-a-row in all competitions is brutal and raises legitimate questions about the legacy of this season.

Yes, they’ll still win the Premier League in dominant fashion, but Pep Guardiola’s men went from arguably conducting the finest season in the history of English top flight soccer to being unquestionably behind Arsenal’s Invincibles while losing three times to one English club and failing in a bid to clinch the title against their crosstown rivals in historic fashion.

Yeah, not good.

There’s still no question that Man City’s style of play and Guardiola’s success in utilizing it to build a champion with it is terrific, but “Could they win the quadruple?” became a double with the weakest jewel of the quartet included in the spoils.

It’s crazy to type this considering there’s still a deserved coronation for one of the best Premier League seasons in history but… maybe next year?

Different tourney, but Salah makes his POY case

His goal early in the second half was one of the easier ones he’ll bag this season, but the red-hot Red continues to make a case to be Premier League Player of the Year (even if the UEFA Champions League shouldn’t really count for voters).

Aided by Fernandinho‘s surprising decision not to get up after hitting the deck in his own box, Salah followed the ball and bagged his 39th goal of the season in the win.

Everybody parks the bus sometime

Heads whipped up to the clock. It read just over two minutes, and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus had just shaped a shot around the splayed Loris Karius to make the tie’s score line read 3-1 on aggregate.

Liverpool then packed it in for the rest of the half.

This was going to be headline image after 45 minutes of play, before we learned Pep Guardiola had been sent to the stands for arguing a ref and before Jurgen Klopp flipped his game plan on its ear.

(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

From the moment Gabriel Jesus gave Man City its second minute lead, Klopp’s Reds were penned into their own half.

There was a sense that City needed a second goal before halftime, where Klopp could change his battle stations. And whether by design or instinct, the Reds were able to better high press the ball at the start of the second half.

We won’t know how long the tactic would’ve lasted thanks to the Mohamed Salah goal that changed everything.

No one wants to see Antonio Mateu Lahoz referee again any time soon

It’s a sad thing to be talking about the referee after a match of this magnitude, and the *good* news is he was pretty much universally awful for both sides.

Antonio Mateu Lahoz handed out five yellow cards in the first half. Depending on your vantage point, he missed a foul on Raheem Sterling in the build-up to Man City’s opener, and then looked to have gotten an offside call wrong that would’ve led to a second City goal.

Even though those were canceled out, Lahoz wasn’t done. He sent Guardiola to the stands for the second half and missed a potential Liverpool penalty moments before Mohamed Salah scored. Again, it wouldn’t have changed anything about the outcome.

Liverpool knocks Man City out of UCL

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Manchester City is out of the UEFA Champions League, as Liverpool defeated the Premier League leaders for the third time in four tries, this time a 2-1 set back at the Etihad Stadium that puts the Reds into the semifinals.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino scored for a 5-1 aggregate win, with Gabriel Jesus scoring Man City’s goal early.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Heads whipped up to the clock. It read just over two minutes, and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus had just shaped a shot around the splayed Loris Karius to make it 3-1 on aggregate.

Sadio Mane saw yellow for a studs first challenge that perhaps unintentionally slipped into Nicolas Otamendi’s groin.

A dangerous free kick near the end line was next, but City could not cut the deficit to one.

Bernardo Silva chested down a diagonal ball and played to the top of the box for Kevin De Bruyne, who’s low shot was not a problem for Karius. It remained 1-0 (1-3) in the 27th minute.

City continued to control play, and Silva curled a 20-yard shot that took a slight turn off Dejan Lovren and onto the far post at the dawn of the 42nd minute.

Leroy Sane then saw a goal controversially pulled back for offside.

And then this:

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Salah seemingly put the tie to bed with an away goal in the 56th minute, a moment after the Reds perhaps should’ve been awarded a penalty for a foul on Mane.

Sterling tore past Georginio Wijnaldum and Van Dijk to earn a free kick in the 66th minute. Sergio Aguero replaced David Silva before play restarted in Manchester.

Guardiola sent to stands for 2nd half; G. Jesus, Dzeko goals (video)

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The UEFA Champions League is 45 minutes away — 90 combined — from knowing its first two semifinalists.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Both Manchester City and AS Roma have put a dent in their comeback bids with early goals, but still remain three and two goals shy of victory.

Manchester City 1-0 (1-3 aggregate) Liverpool

And then there’s this, as a furious Pep Guardiola will not be in the coach’s seat for the second half after arguing with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz. There were five yellow cards in the first half, and Man City was denied a goal when a ball came off Karius and Milner before a ruled offside Jesus put it in the goal.

Heads whipped up to the clock. It read just over two minutes, and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus had just shaped a shot around the splayed Loris Karius to make it 3-1 on aggregate.

There was controversy in the start of the play, as Raheem Sterling knocked into Virgil Van Dijk while the Liverpool man was hoofing a long ball.

Sterling then keyed the opener, and Jesus slotted to make it 1-0.

AS Roma 1-0 (2-4 aggregate) Barcelona

Barcelona has only lost once in 48 matches, but that mark is under fire at the minimum as Edin Dzeko‘s sixth minute marker has i Lupi deservedly on top in Rome.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Everton 0-0 Liverpool: Lackluster derby at Goodison

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  • Match snaps to life late
  • No Salah for Liverpool
  • Tosun, Walcott lively

Liverpool and Everton provided few chances of merit in the 231st Merseyside Derby, a scoreless draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Everton’s Europa League dreams probably die with the draw, as the disappointing Toffees are five points back of seventh place Burnley having played two more matches than Sean Dyche‘s Clarets.

Liverpool moves a point back of Manchester United having played two less than the Red Devils.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Danny Ings‘ start was his first in the Premier League since Oct. 2015.

The first proper chance of the game came when James Milner clipped a ball toward the penalty spot, with Dominic Solanke heading wide of the far post.

Jordan Pickford would stop a harder strike from Solanke around the quarter hour mark.

For Everton, Cenk Tosun had a penalty shot denied and Loris Karius got his flying fingers to a Yannick Bolasie rip from the outskirts of the 18.

Pickford stopped Milner with a fine leap at the other end as the game hit the 30th minute.

The second half’s first half-hour was more about battles than highlights, as several players went head-to-head including Danny Ings and Seamus Coleman.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain snapped a shot high of the frame in the 70th minute.

The hosts finally began a series of threatening moves in the final 15 minutes, and Tosun was a foot from sliding a goal home for Everton.

Theo Walcott‘s cross was nearly headed into the far corner by a slipping Tosun, and Coleman almost found the rebound at the near post.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin flubbed an 88th minute chance which almost certainly should’ve been a winner for the beleagured Allardyce.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

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Three things learned: Everton v. Liverpool

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LIVERPOOL — Everton and Liverpool played out a tight, tense 0-0 draw in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp‘s much-changed side huffing and puffing against a resolute, if uninspiring, Everton.

Sam Allardyce‘s side now haven’t won any of their last 17 derbies against Liverpool as Yannick Bolasie had a shot saved by Loris Karius superbly and Cenk Tosun went close late on.

Without the injured Mohamed Salah, Liverpool failed to really take the game by the scruff of the neck despite having large spells of possession.

Here’s what we learned from an edgy encounter at Goodison.


AGITATION GROWS AT EVERTON

“You hardly touched the ball!” sung the Liverpool fans towards the Everton supporters midway through the second half.

Of course, they did touch it, many times, but you get what they’re saying. Everton’s fans appear to be fed up with Sam Allardyce’s direct style of play and the odds of him being in charge next season appear to be growing by the day.

This was a perfect audition for what Everton could become under Big Sam but instead he stuck to his principles as his team set up to defend and did just that with an unadventurous plan. Even a few decent chances at the end of the game which fell to Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin couldn’t lift the mood among Everton’s supporters.

Their lack of ambition was summed up when Wayne Rooney and Yannick Bolasie were both taken off in the second half and Idrissa Gueye and Calvert-Lewin came on. Rooney, playing in a central midfield role, was livid with the decision and the decision to take Bolasie off was cheered by the home fans after several slack moments despite his curling shot almost giving the Toffees the lead in the first half.

Allardyce has Everton into the top 10 of the Premier League and away from the relegation zone which was his remit when he took over. But that’s not enough for Everton’s fans who were promised a push for UEFA Champions League under new owner Farhad Moshiri.

As Liverpool fans sung sarcastic songs about Allardyce and his style of play, it seemed clear that most of the home fans inside Goodison feel the same. Tosun had little support the entire game and Everton’s defenders were clearly told to lump the ball forward rather than to build from the back. Everton were set up to defend and not to lose but against a Liverpool side who had clearly prioritized their UCL quarterfinal second leg at Man City on Tuesday with their team selection, this was a chance for Allardyce’s side to make a statement. They didn’t. At all.

Big Sam has defended the job he’s done at Everton since he arrived. In the week he compared their situation to that of West Brom’s who sit bottom of the table but where above Everton in the table when he took over.

Ye it’s not about where Everton are in the table. Their performance in Saturday’s Merseyside Derby against a much-changed Liverpool side  proved that Allardyce’s methods aren’t what the fans want and this relationship isn’t working out despite Everton clear of relegation danger.


SOLANKE READY TO STEP UP

Dominic Solanke‘s fourth start in the Premier League was a big moment for him. With Solanke and Danny Ings starting in place of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, they had huge boots to fill but Solanke was up to the task.

He nodded wide early on and had a snapshot from close range which Jordan Pickford saved superbly, but it was his ability to hold the ball up and link up with Sadio Mane and Ings which impressed.

Despite failing to score in 23 appearances this season in all competitions (19 of them have been as a second half sub, often late in the game) at 20 years of age Solanke is ready to step up and play regularly in the Premier League.

His pace and power caused Everton’s robust defense problems and even if he can’t get ahead of Firmino and Salah at Liverpool, a loan move to another PL club will surely be on the cards for next season. Klopp has been reluctant to loan youngsters out but Solanke has shown considerable progress this season and the next step must be to play regularly in the PL. He can do it. And score goals. No question.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE NOW LIVERPOOL’S FOCUS

With a top four spot all but secure with five games to go, with got a glimpse of Klopp’s mindset for the final weeks of the Premier League season: the UEFA Champions League will be the focus.

Ings, Solanke, Ragnar Klavan and Georgino Wijnaldum all came in to the starting lineup and youngsters Curtis Jones, Conor Masterson and Rafael Camacho were all on the bench.

Klopp’s comments after Liverpool’s 3-0 win against Man City at Anfield on Wednesday suggested he wasn’t happy with an early kick off on Saturday for this game but he was in a position where he could afford to rotate his team with the second leg in Manchester in mind.

Those who came in did well but tired late on and with the Premier League title gone, Liverpool’s focus is now on at least making the final four of the Champions League rather than finishing second in the PL.