Liverpool beats Man City 3 0, avenges cup final loss

By Steve Douglas


Raheem Sterling - Manchester City

LIVERPOOL, England _ Liverpool avenged its weekend loss to Manchester City in the League Cup final in some style on Wednesday, winning an immediate return match 3-0 in the Premier League to damage the visitors’ title ambitions.

City’s winless run in league matches at Anfield extended to 13 years after conceding two goals in seven first-half minutes from Adam Lallana and former City player James Milner. Roberto Firmino added the third goal in the 57th minute with another clinical finish, as Liverpool’s pressing game proved too much for a tired-looking City side that had just two shots on target.

“We lost on Sunday, we had to show a reaction,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said, referring to City’s win in a penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium. “So we started extremely lively. We showed from the first second it won’t be easy for Man City.”

Fourth-place City is now 10 points behind league leader Leicester, having played a game less, and is now starting to look over its shoulder in the race to secure a Champions League qualification place for next season. Manchester United is tied on points in fifth and West Ham is a point behind, after both sides won elsewhere on Wednesday.

“Of course we cannot play in the way we did today,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose team has lost three league games in a row. “I am not thinking about the title and not thinking not to qualify for the Champions League. The most important thing is to recover our performance in the Premier League.”

It proved a miserable return to Anfield for City winger Raheem Sterling, who left Liverpool in acrimonious circumstances in the last off-season. His first action was getting bashed to the ground by marker Jon Flanagan in the opening minute, he received regular abusive chants from The Kop, flashed a shot way wide in the 27th, and was substituted at halftime.

By then, Liverpool _ refreshed by five changes from the cup final _ was 2-0 up from the first two clear-cut chances the team created on a blustery evening.

“From the beginning we were not fresh,” said Pellegrini, who only changed two outfield players from Sunday. “Liverpool had more energy. They recovered the ball at a higher pace.”

Lallana, one of the players recalled, picked up the ball in lots of space 35 metres out, advanced and struck a low, left-foot shot that dribbled into the corner from outside the area in the 34th.

Milner, who left City for Anfield last summer, doubled the lead in the 41st by running onto an inside pass from Firmino, piercing the heart of City’s defence and toe-poking a shot beyond the stranded Hart.

Milner was brilliant all game, and his performance against an old club was in stark contrast to Sterling’s

Pellegrini introduced forwards Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho from the bench, but it left the visitors open and Liverpool capitalized.

Lallana was the instigator of the third goal, running unchecked to the edge of the area before slipping a short pass to Firmino, who curled a finish into the corner.

City didn’t create a chance of note in the second half on another match to forget at Anfield.

“The boys did brilliant,” Klopp said. “They were very angry _ angry in a positive way.”

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