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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Manchester City's five-star show against Liverpool will echo through the ages

Klopp says Mane's red card for challenge on City goalkeeper Ederson "an accident" as German joins Mourinho in being on the end of a 5-0 defeat to Guardiola

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus, left, celebrates scoring City's second goal against Liverpool with Benjamin Mendy, centre, and Kevin De Bruyne. Phil Noble / Reuters
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus, left, celebrates scoring City's second goal against Liverpool with Benjamin Mendy, centre, and Kevin De Bruyne. Phil Noble / Reuters

Some scorelines echo through the ages. One 5-0 win orchestrated by Pep Guardiola already has. When Barcelona manager in 2010, he inflicted Jose Mourinho’s heaviest ever defeat. Another might. He can add the accolade of overseeing Jurgen Klopp’s most emphatic loss as Liverpool manager.

“I have had a few 5-0 defeats in my life,” said Klopp, with typical understatement. “That is not cool.”

If he was upset, so was the formbook, and in stunning, spectacular style. Destroyers of Arsenal two weeks ago, Liverpool ended up eviscerated by Manchester City. Their own medicine tasted sour for the Merseysiders. They could rue Sadio Mane’s red card, the latest contentious dismissal in City games, but they already trailed before then.

“For a long time, City were not able to beat Liverpool,” Guardiola rationalised. It was not just City. Klopp had suffered a solitary league defeat against England’s big seven; Guardiola had only won twice. The notion was that Liverpool were the big-game hunters. Instead City supplanted them as the suppliers of the season’s statement result. A demolition job was completed by a ruthless Leroy Sane, who scored twice in a cameo, curling in an injury-time fifth.

He garnished a win fashioned by forwards. Forget false nines, Guardiola paired twin strikers. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus proved too elusive for a Liverpool defence whose frailties were exposed. They struck three times between them, combining wonderfully for the third goal. Much as City may rue missing out on Alexis Sanchez, it was scarcely a game to suggest they required the Chilean.

They scored five goals, were denied at least four more by a defiant Simon Mignolet and had a further two chalked off. They created a host of chances. That owed much to the three-man midfield: indeed, it is notable many of their best displays under Guardiola have come when Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho have operated as a central trio.

The Brazilian may be overshadowed by others, but he excelled. Fernandinho’s ball in the build-up to the third was incisive, De Bruyne’s pass for the opener delectable.

“We are a lucky team to have Kevin,” Guardiola added. The Belgian was officially the division’s most creative player last season and opened his account with two assists. The second, which Jesus headed in, was a typical cross but his through pass for Aguero’s opener, and his sixth in six home league appearances against Liverpool, shaped the sort of direct goal Liverpool have trademarked.

They were hoist by their own petard, harmed by their usual match-winner. Destructive so often, Mane proved self-destructive. Ederson was also hired to be a sweeper-keeper and, indirectly, that led to the Senegalese’s red card. City deployed a high defensive line so the goalkeeper came out of his box to clear. Mane’s studs connected with Ederson’s chin.

“An accident,” said Klopp. “Everyone knows he didn’t see the goalie but I am sure enough people will find enough reasons to say [the red card] was the right decision.” Mane, he declared, was “very, very, very upset.”

Meanwhile, Ederson’s bravery came at a cost; he was carried off on a stretcher after a seven-minute delay and taken to hospital, though he had returned to the touchline by the end. “I think [his jaw and cheekbone] are not broken,” Guardiola said.

He changed goalkeepers, bringing on Claudio Bravo. Klopp changed system, sacrificing Mohamed Salah in a failed quest for solidity. Aguero sprung the offside trap to set up Jesus for the third. Benjamin Mendy, who provided a stream of inviting crosses, supplied Sane for the fourth.

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson is fouled by Liverpool's Sadio Mane resulting in a red card for the Senegalese attacker. Lee Smith / Reuters
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson is fouled by Liverpool's Sadio Mane resulting in a red card for the Senegalese attacker. Lee Smith / Reuters

“It was a hard lesson,” Klopp said. “I will try to ignore the result: not the mistakes but the result.” The usually upbeat German had admitted defeat before the end, substituting Roberto Firmino to spare his legs for Sevilla.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also came on, making an inauspicious debut. His last two club games have ended in 4-0 and 5-0 defeats, one playing against Liverpool and one for them.

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