EPL: Champions Manchester City inflict first league loss on Liverpool

Leroy Sane has struck the winner for Manchester City to beat Liverpool 2-1, inflicting the season's first loss on Juergen Klopp's side and cutting their Premier League lead to four points.

The gripping Etihad Stadium game lived up to its billing, with both sides showing that, for all their trademark attractive football, they can go hard in a physical battle.

City's run of three defeats in five games had raised questions over whether they had the durability to sustain a title challenge with a Liverpool side that had assumed an air of invincibility.

But with key midfielders Fernandinho and David Silva back, and veteran skipper Vincent Kompany recalled at centre back, Pep Guardiola's side showed steel to match their undoubted technique.

"The game was a real game for both sides, two incredible teams," Guardiola said.

"We were outstanding from the first minute and happy with the victory to reduce the gap, and everything's open."

Liverpool were unable to get their front three operating at their best, but could easily have taken a point at the end, with City keeper Ederson making a fine save to keep out Mohamed Salah's effort and the Merseysiders piling on pressure in stoppage-time.

"A very intense game and we were unlucky in our finishing moments," Klopp said. "They had periods of dominance, of course, but we came back and had chances.

"It's always like this, but you have to score in those moments."

There was a rarely a dull moment, after Sadio Mane hit the post for Liverpool in the 18th minute.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp & Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp & Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola. Photo credit: Reuters.

From the resulting scramble, John Stones' attempted clearance bounced off Ederson and he did superbly to clear off the line with the ball millimetres from going in.

City broke through five minutes before the break, when Bernardo Silva found Sergio Aguero inside the box and the Argentine unleashed a fierce drive to fire past Alisson and make it 1-0.

Liverpool responded strongly after the break though and drew level when Andrew Robertson met a deep Trent Alexander-Arnold cross with a cushioned volley for Roberto Firmino to head in from close range.

But City were not finished and restored their lead in the 72nd minute, when Raheem Sterling broke from midfield and fed Sane on the left, the German winger driving home off the inside of the far post.

The tension got to both managers, with Klopp appearing to gesticulate at City supporters, while Guardiola lost his cool in a rage with the fourth official.

Reuters