Manchester City thrashed 10-man Liverpool as they sent out an ominous message of intent to their Premier League title rivals.
Liverpool were already trailing to Sergio Aguero’s cool finish when Sadio Mane was sent off eight minutes before half-time for a high challenge on Ederson that left City’s keeper requiring lengthy treatment for facial injuries before he was replaced by Claudio Bravo.
City took ruthless advantage of their numerical advantage, adding a second before the break through Gabriel Jesus’s header, helped by a Liverpool side who folded dramatically in the second half.
Aguero set up Jesus for his second after the break before substitute Leroy Sane added two late goals to give City their biggest win over Liverpool since 1937, sweeping home Benjamin Mendy’s cross at the near post and curling a left-foot finish high beyond keeper Simon Mignolet to complete the rout.
Victory lifts Pep Guardiola’s side top of the table, above rivals Manchester United, who face Stoke away at 17:30 BST, and ensures a first defeat of the season for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
‘Referee Moss got Mane call right’
Jon Moss’s decision to send off Mane for his high challenge on Ederson after 37 minutes initially divided opinion and was met with the clear disapproval of Klopp and his players.
There was no suggestion Mane intended to cause the injury which led to Ederson requiring eight minutes of treatment to facial and head injuries before being taken off on a stretcher for further examinations.
And Mane could hardly be blamed for going for the ball with such intent – but it was reckless with Ederson bravely rushing out and the rule is clear in support of Moss’s action.
In Fifa’s Laws Of The Game for 2017-18, it is stated: “Serious foul play – a tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force of brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.”
Man City cannot do without Aguero
Aguero proved his enduring world-class quality with a smooth finish around Mignolet for Manchester City’s first and his unselfishness when he played in Jesus for the third when he could have scored himself.
And yet the debate continues around whether the 29-year-old Argentine is part of Guardiola’s long-term plan at Etihad Stadium.
Aguero started on the bench for City’s recent win at Bournemouth and Guardiola was keen to conclude a £60m deal for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez on deadline day.
For all the romantic notions of Guardiola’s purist approach to the game, there must surely be an element of pragmatism that will tell the Catalan he simply cannot do without the man who is still a goalscorer of the highest class, a player who can still make the crucial difference.
Aguero’s first goal for City was his 171st for the club, leaving him only six short of equalling Eric Brook as the club’s greatest scorer. Brook took 453 appearances to reach his 177 between 1928 and 1940 – this game was Aguero’s 257th.
The Argentina striker is also now the top scoring non-European player in Premier League history, with 124 goals, having overtaken Trinidad and Tobago international Dwight Yorke (123).
The statistics speak volumes for his importance.
Man of the match – Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Ruthless Man City, but limp Liverpool
Manchester City were already taking charge before Mane’s red card – but the manner in which they picked Liverpool apart was magnificent and in the end the victory margin could have been wider.
Guardiola has an array of attacking riches to choose from and he utilised them to perfection, allowing Aguero and Jesus to set the platform before sending on Sane to complete Liverpool’s humiliation.
It is an attacking force that will take some stopping – and while some central defensive worries may linger, City almost look like a guarantee of goals.
Liverpool manager Klopp is also assembling an exciting attacking side with Mohamed Salah’s pace a real threat alongside Mane and the elegant Roberto Firmino.
The problems come at the back and were brutally exposed in the second half in a dreadful display, even given for the fact they were down to 10 men.
Liverpool could not add Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk in the transfer window and it has left them short, with Ragnar Klavan’s replacement of Dejan Lovren a sign of Klopp’s uncertainty about that position.
It is a vulnerability that, for all their exciting attacking options, could seriously undermine Liverpool.
‘We both didn’t think it was a red card’ – reaction
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “I was really angry at half-time – not because of the result, not because of the red card – I was angry because I didn’t see before the red card that we really understood that we could have got everything.
The red card was a game-changer today. But although City were 2-0 up and we had 10 men, I couldn’t believe we had no chance anymore. I thought there was something to come but then the second half was not the biggest joy for any Liverpool fan and we say sorry for that.
I’m sure enough people will find a reason to say it’s 100% a red card. I was outside with Pep and we both didn’t think it’s a red card. In the game everybody thought the goalkeeper was seriously injured – I’m not sure what happened but he was running around after the game so not as serious as everybody thought.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “The game was tight, it was equal when it was 11 against 11. After the red card it was different – I know it’s not easy to play against 10, it’s easier but not easy.
“But we controlled the game and the second goal before half-time was so important. They changed the system and we spent a few minutes to adjust but after that we were in control.
“We think nothing is broken but Ederson has a big scar – hopefully he can come back as soon as possible. Of course it was not intentional from Mane because he was looking at the ball and didn’t see the keeper but the impact is huge.”
Klopp’s heaviest defeat – match stats
- This was Jurgen Klopp’s heaviest defeat in all competitions as Liverpool manager and his joint-heaviest ever managerial loss (lost 6-1 with Mainz v Werder Bremen in October 2006).
- This was also Klopp’s first Premier League defeat away from home to one of last season’s top seven sides (P10 W5 D4 L1).
- Manchester City netted 5+ goals in a game versus Liverpool for the first time since March 1937 (5-1).
- Since he made his Manchester City debut, Kevin De Bruyne has assisted 2+ goals in seven different Premier League games (29 assists in total in that period).
- Sergio Aguero has scored in all six of his Premier League appearances against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium, netting once in each game.
- Indeed, Aguero is the fourth player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive home apps v a single side (also Alan Shearer against Everton, Thierry Henry against Aston Villa and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink against West Ham)
- Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 14 goals in his 12 Premier League starts for Man City (10 goals, four assists).
Manchester City are away to Feyenoord in their Champions League opener on Wednesday (kick-off 19:45 BST), while Liverpool host Sevilla at the same time.
City then travel to Watford in the Premier League and Liverpool host Burnley – both games on Saturday, 16 September (kick-off 15:00 BST).
- 31EdersonSubstituted forBravoat 45+1′minutes
- 30OtamendiBooked at 6minsSubstituted forMangalaat 71′minutes
- 25FernandinhoBooked at 28mins
- 17De Bruyne
- 33JesusSubstituted forSanéat 57′minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 66Alexander-ArnoldBooked at 19mins
- 5WijnaldumSubstituted forMilnerat 58′minutes
- 23CanBooked at 80mins
- 11SalahSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 45′minutes
- 9FirminoSubstituted forSolankeat 67′minutes
- 19ManéBooked at 37mins
- Jonathan Moss
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Manchester City 5, Liverpool 0.
Second Half ends, Manchester City 5, Liverpool 0.
Goal! Manchester City 5, Liverpool 0. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Kyle Walker.
Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Leroy Sané.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Joel Matip (Liverpool).
Foul by Leroy Sané (Manchester City).
Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool).
Attempt missed. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses the top right corner.
Emre Can (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Emre Can (Liverpool).
Goal! Manchester City 4, Liverpool 0. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Benjamin Mendy.
Foul by Sergio Agüero (Manchester City).
Emre Can (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by David Silva (Manchester City).
James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Ragnar Klavan.
Substitution, Manchester City. Eliaquim Mangala replaces Nicolás Otamendi.
Foul by Danilo (Manchester City).
James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Offside, Manchester City. Leroy Sané tries a through ball, but David Silva is caught offside.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Substitution, Liverpool. Dominic Solanke replaces Roberto Firmino.
Offside, Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tries a through ball, but Trent Alexander-Arnold is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Leroy Sané.
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Georginio Wijnaldum.
Substitution, Manchester City. Leroy Sané replaces Gabriel Jesus.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Emre Can.
Goal! Manchester City 3, Liverpool 0. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Sergio Agüero.
Offside, Manchester City. Benjamin Mendy tries a through ball, but Sergio Agüero is caught offside.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by John Stones.
Foul by Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City).
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Second Half begins Manchester City 2, Liverpool 0.
Substitution, Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Mohamed Salah.
First Half ends, Manchester City 2, Liverpool 0.
Goal! Manchester City 2, Liverpool 0. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross.