Much of the pre-match talk ahead of Liverpool’s English Premier League clash against Manchester City had been about City’s goal machine Erling Haaland, and rightly so given the striker’s record-breaking form.
But at Anfield on Sunday, it was Mo Salah, overshadowed so far this season by league newcomer Haaland, who made the headlines with a sensational winner to give his team a much-needed victory, and a first against City since 2019.
Liverpool has suffered a torrid start in the league – winning just twice prior to this fixture in the worst start under Jurgen Klopp’s tenure – but victory over defending champion City will be a morale boost.
Still 14 points behind Arsenal, the league leader who is four points above City in second, a title challenge seems unlikely for Klopp’s men, but should this win prove to be a turning point there is still time for the team to gain ground on its rivals.
The downside for Liverpool was that Klopp was sent off towards the end of the match as the German complained about the officiating, believing Salah had been fouled. But when tempers cool the Liverpool manager will be overjoyed by the result.
For the goal, Kevin de Bruyne’s free-kick had fallen straight to Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, who rapidly found Salah through the middle. The forward evaded Joao Cancelo, who slipped, and then beat City keeper Ederson when one-on-one.
He had previously failed to beat Ederson when one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but this was a clinical finish and one which could prove to be a crucial moment when Liverpool looks back on this season.
‘It’s genius from Mo Salah. Brilliant finish, brilliant play from Salah,” said Chris Sutton, commentating on BBC Radio 5 live.
Moments earlier it looked as if Salah was to be substituted but after Klopp had had a quick word with his forward the manager changed his mind and Harvey Elliott made way instead.
Up until Salah’s breakthrough the match had remained goalless, but the scoreline belied the quality of the match.
Haaland, as you’d expect from a player who has already scored 15 goals this campaign, had chances, forcing two saves from Alisson, but this was a rare match where the Norwegian was unable to make a telling impact.
Phil Foden thought he had put City 1-0 but his goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee as Haaland was deemed to have fouled Fabinho in the build up.
City enjoyed plenty of possession, but in Alisson and defender Virgil van Dijk Liverpool found that their totemic pair were in impenetrable form.
The home side could have scored more in the later stages, but Darwin Nunez shot at goal when Salah was in a better position.