The highly anticipated Champions League quarter-final clash between Liverpool and Manchester City took place tonight, and the football on display didn’t disappoint the on watching fans.
Pep Guardiola sprung the first surprise in the contest when neither Raheem Sterling or Bernardo Silva was selected in the starting eleven. The City boss opted to play Ilkay Gundogan and it became clear his wide options on the night would be Leroy Sané and Gabriel Jesus with a false nine operating through the middle.
From the opening moments City’s intention to give Leroy Sané as much of the ball as possible, however, Liverpool’s opening chance of the game was easily converted by Mo Salah after a defensive mix-up allowing Salah to tap-in.
Ten minutes later, a loss of possession outside the area saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pick the ball up and drill a twenty-five-yard strike on goal to double Liverpool’s advantage.
City couldn’t compose themselves and struggled to get a foothold in the game, and Sadio Mané trebled Liverpool’s lead. Before half-time, the contest was already over. The second-half was a no-contest with City having 71% possession but creating little in front of goal.
Here’s how the Blues’ performances are rated:
Ederson – 4
City’s record-signing for a goalkeeper, Ederson’s passing was crucial the importance of passing through Liverpool’s impressive pressing style. His passing was off-key as was City’s defence.
Kyle Walker – 4
Another player made for the big occasion, Walker had the impossible task of remaining solid defensively but also providing width to a narrow City right-hand side. He was isolated during the first-half with Liverpool having plenty of joy and creating wave upon wave of attack.
Vincent Kompany – 4
Kompany started his second game of the week, and cometh the hour, cometh the captain. A man for the big game, Kompany usually is City’s most reliable defender. However, not even he could bring composure to tonight’s game.
Nicolas Otamendi – 3
With a point to prove from his last performance at Anfield, Otamendi would have been hoping to produce a consistent performance for Guardiola’s side. Terrible in the first-half, Otamendi seems to struggle at Anfield continuously.
Aymeric Laporte – 6
Laporte was sensational on Saturday in his adopted role, but he faced potentially the most challenging task in European football right now by trying to stop Mo Salah from scoring. He couldn’t prevent Salah from scoring, but he was superb in his defensive duties where others were lacking.
Fernandinho – 5
The first name on the team-sheet? Fernandinho recorded 14% of the entire game’s possession on Saturday against Everton. Tonight, Fernandinho’s primary role was to dictate play and prevent Liverpool’s pressing midfield from having a significant impact – a task he couldn’t achieve along with his fellow midfielders.
Kevin De Bruyne – 3
De Bruyne had the PFA Player of the Year award wrapped up before Liverpool’s Mo Salah’s inspiring form has seemed swung the contest in his favour. Nonetheless, De Bruyne was unable to impose his usual self due to the power Liverpool possessed in midfield.
David Silva – 5
Not many people were surprised to see David Silva starting, but his starting position would ultimately be the shock. Operating in a ‘false nine’ position, Silva was poor in possession and struggled to by-pass Liverpool’s midfield three.
Ilkay Gundogan – 4
The German international was the surprise selection choice from Pep Guardiola tonight, and it was a decision that backfired. Him not being a winger meant he was unable to provide much-needed support to Kyle Walker in defence.
Leroy Sané – 5
Sané had been identified by many as the player capable of hurting Liverpool’s defence – and in particular Trent Alexander-Arnold – during tonight’s match. He ran a lot at Alexander-Arnold but to little effect and was wasteful near the Reds’ box.
Gabriel Jesus – 4
Thankfully for Jesus, Sergio Aguero was unable to feature tonight due to his failing of a fitness test before the contest. Jesus’ form since returning from injury has been sensational, and at Anfield, the occasion did little to faze him. Jesus was out of the game for the majority but through no fault of his own due to poor service into his feet.