LFC Toronto Match Review: Man City 4 – Liverpool 1

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LFC Toronto Match Review: Man City 4 - Liverpool 1

Scarborough native and Liverpool fan Mike Myers was at the Etihad Stadium for this clash against Man City.

Sadly, even the support of Austin Powers was not enough for Liverpool to get their mojo back and cure their travel sickness.

Just like at Bournemouth three weeks ago, another Saturday early kickoff and another hard-to-explain Reds performance on the road.

This time it was against an imperious City and despite the absence of their most prolific scorer Erling Haarland, this defeat did really hurt us a lot.

That’s because the first half saw Liverpool putting up a quite credible performance before floundering as soon as City took the lead from the get-go in the second.

This is turning into a worrying psychological trend for the Liverpool players. Fall behind in the scoreline, especially in away matches, and the appetite to fight is seemingly on the wane.

With Darwin Nunez not starting after his recent ankle injury, Diogo Jota was in the initial starting XI as an attacking left midfielder in a 4-4-2 formation with Mo Salah and Cody Gakpo leading the line.

By contrast, City had a more gung-ho 4-2-4 and they went for it right from the start.

The first 10 minutes truly reflected this difference in approach with Liverpool mostly absorbing City’s attempts.

Alisson Becker was called upon with a few saves, albeit not difficult ones while his counterpart Ederson had barely stepped in the frame of the TV cameras.

Scoring first

Against the run of play on the 17th minute, Mo Salah opened the score from a move initiated by a brilliant Trent Alexander-Arnold long pass from deep in Liverpool’s territory.

Jota timed his run perfectly before breaking away toward Ederson. As he was getting increasing attention from Manuel Akanji, the Portuguese held off for a little while and left it to Salah for a left-footed curler into the net.

If you thought it would do a whole world of good for Liverpool not being the first one to concede, well think again. This was after all a Man City who could afford to field World Cup winner Julian Alvarez as mere replacement for Haarland.

Ten minutes after the Reds had taken the lead, the Argentinian equalized with a slick City move. Riyad Mahrez powered down their right flank and cut inside to Gundogan who immediately pivoted the ball to Jack Grealish on the left.

The England international squared it to Alvarez to apply the finishing touch past Alisson.

Coming back from a goal down is not a big surprise for a team of City’s calibre. So Liverpool continued to battle on for the rest of the first half.

On the 34th minute, Rodri should have gotten a second yellow card for blatantly holding up Cody Gakpo who was on the verge of breaking clear towards City’s goal. That was a mere 3 minutes after the Spaniard saw yellow for a similar foul on Jota.

In his post match interview, Jurgen Klopp did not pour more controversy on whether Rodri should have been sent off. Instead, he expressed doubts whether Liverpool would still have won against 10 men.

To the point, City’s superiority was abundantly clear in the second half as Pep Guardiola’s men took the lead less than one minute after the re-start.

Mahrez had acres of space down their right flank when he collected a long pass from Alvarez. The Algerian crossed to Kevin De Bruyne for a simple tap in.

Already jaded

From leading one-nil to falling behind two-one, the Reds looked like having been dealt with a big psychological blow. City pounced with a third after the ball had circulated inside a Liverpool penalty area packed with 8 outfield red players without any one of them attempting a challenge.

Gundogan even had the luxury of controlling the ball after a rebound on Alexander-Arnold before adjusting his shot past Alisson. The replay showed a frustrated Liverpool keeper lamenting why no one tried to close down on the City players.

With more than 35 minutes to go, there was still the possibility that if Liverpool managed to score one, they would be back in it.

But with City dominating the proceedings, that did not look like happening at all. Actually, Klopp implicitly admitted defeat on the 70th with a triple substitution which included Salah being retired, probably with Chelsea in mind on Tuesday.

On the other side of the coin, City added a fourth goal as Grealish and De Bruyne combined on the left before the former Aston Villa player slid the ball past Alisson. Frankly, at that point, we couldn’t wait for the final whistle.

Just like after the Brighton league game in January, a clearly deflated Klopp was at a loss to explain the evident lack of pressing from the Liverpool players, now an all too regular feature in this crazy inconsistent season.

If the Reds are still prey to that travel sickness on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge, it will be a very wounded Liverpool side to face league leaders Arsenal next Sunday inside the more reassuring confines of Anfield.

Who knows, we might after all still end up having a say in the destiny of the league title this season.

Mike Chung.