As the final whistle blew at the Etihad Stadium last night the newly crowned Premier League champions had been not only beaten, but humiliated. Manchester City had clicked into gear and shown a glimpse of what may be possible in the months ahead.
The script for this clash between deposed Champions Manchester City and new Champions Liverpool was well stocked with dramatic cliche. This was first meets second. Best attack v best defence.
However, few would have expected that it would have been Manchester City who triumphed quite so spectacularly, especially given we have misfired for so much of the season.
Indeed the humiliation could have been total if the 5th strike by Riyad Mahrez had not been disallowed. This was another VAR aberration into this disrupted season.
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The miniscule handball by Phil Foden made no discernible difference to the goal, but nevertheless was deemed enough to have the goal chalked off. Throughout the season VAR has worked to remove as much joy from the spectacle of football as possible.
From the kickoff both teams looked focussed and driven. The technical interplay of Pep Guardiola’s City side against the raw power of Klopp’s Liverpool.
City had the ball in control but not the match during the early stages. Moves broke down with misplaced passes and interceptions and Liverpool had the better chances to take the lead.
Mo Salah forced Ederson into a good save, hit the post and Sadio Mane missed the rebound. However it was City who opened the scoring.
Raheem Sterling was manhandled by Joe Gomez in the first karma battle of this game and it was left to Kevin De Bruyne to score the resultant penalty.
Sterling got the better again of the Liverpool defence to add a second goal. This came after some good work by Phil Foden but there was still much to do before poking the ball home.
City raced into a three goal lead just before half time after a lovely move on the break which characterised our play under Guardiola. Foden played a neat one-two with De Bruyne on the edge of the area but that phrase did not do justice to the contribution of super Kev.
The way he turned the ball into the path of Foden whilst holding off Van Dijk was a piece of joy, characteristic of a player at the top of his game.
City added a 4th, again as a result of the efforts of De Bruyne. His pass finding Raheem Sterling who unleashed a shot which was diverted into the goal by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Even the denial of a deserved goal by Riyad Mahrez could not dampen spirits. This was a special performance by City.
All over the pitch were some excellent performances. From Laporte and Eric Garcia, to Gundogan and Rodri. Yet it was Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden who both stood out.
Quite what this victory will mean in the months ahead is unclear, but right now it was the first real indication that City can raise their game when it really counts. This should give us all confidence in the games ahead.
Right now though, we should simply bask in the reflected glory of a wonderful City performance.