A lot of pundits were tipping Manchester City to barge their way into the Champions League final: aside from the two big Spanish clubs, this was the only other team that has the capability to win it all in the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola’ side have the Premier League wrapped up, so the Champions League should rather be easy pickings, right? I guess Liverpool didn’t get the memo, as they put on a performance that left the Citizens asking what had hit them.
Anfield showed a Liverpool side that was stronger, more focused, physically more imposing and tactically more organised. Manchester City had no shots on target by half-time, two of Liverpool’s goals started with a tackle in midfield, and they dominated possession at the first half, leading to an impressive 3-0 lead at half-time.
Manchester City made more incursions in the second half, particularly in the final ten minutes, but had more bookings than goals to show for it. Everyone save for Ederson was in Liverpool’s half of the field by then, but the Reds made a masterful defensive stand that complemented their massive offensive performance at the first half.
But what about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? Reds fans had high hopes after a 35 million-pound transfer, but may have been thinking initially that is was money not well spent. Oxlade-Chamberlain started 2018 well though, opening his account in the Premier League match at Anfield against City with the goal that put them in the lead: it would prove decisive as Liverpool won the 4-3 thriller by a single goal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t scored since then, however. In a bid to regain his top form, and also probably to relive Liverpool’s past glories, he posted training videos of him recreating that iconic Steven Gerrard goal against Real Madrid. Well, he did get a chance in a real game tonight.
Liverpool were already up 1-0 thanks to a goal from Mohamed Salah when around nine minutes later, off a James Milner tackle, Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a screamer of a goal that left Ederson with no chance of reacting. Immediately, social media was abuzz with that Gerrard-esque goal. The person who suggested they recreate that goal deserves a pay raise!
Either way, perhaps this is Oxlade-Chamberlain’s way of forcing his way into the discussion for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup lineup? As for Jurgen Klopp, Reds fans are embracing him now, and he still seems to have the edge over wily Catalan Guardiola, with six wins, one draw and five defeats. Klopp is currently the only manager to have more wins than losses against Guardiola. Can Klopp carry Liverpool to the next level?
Liverpool fans may be giddy with excitement thanks to their imposing 3-0 advantage going into the second leg. Although City fans will remind them though that they won 5-0 at the Etihad earlier this season, and there’s no reason why they can’t recreate that one more time.