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City inflicts 3rd straight Anfield loss on ailing Liverpool

February 7, 2021 GMT
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Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan, left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. (AP photo/Jon Super, Pool)
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Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan, left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. (AP photo/Jon Super, Pool)

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Manchester City dismantled Liverpool, aided by Alisson Becker’s uncharacteristic goalkeeping blunders, to win 4-1 on Sunday and inflict the Premier League champions’ third successive loss at the former fortress of Anfield.

A first victory for City at Liverpool since 2003 -- sparked by Ilkay Gundogan’s double -- nudges Pep Guardiola’s side closer to regaining the trophy.

While City pushed five points clear of Manchester United at the top of the standings, Liverpool slipped 10 points behind the leaders in a faltering title defense.

“It gives us every chance to go on and win it now,” said Phil Foden, who scored City’s fourth after Raheem Sterling’s header. “But the job is not done.”

Not since 1963 has Liverpool lost a hat trick of home league games. And this is a stadium where it had been unbeaten in 68 games until Burnley won last month and Brighton followed up with another victory on Wednesday.

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No wonder Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said Alisson felt disappointed.

“There is not a real explanation,” Klopp said. “Maybe he had cold feet? It sounds funny but it could be. Maybe he could have kicked it in the stand. But Ali saved our life so many times.”

It was failing to keep hold of a shot that allowed Gundogan, who sent a first-half penalty into the Kop, to beat Alisson four minutes after the break.

Mohamed Salah leveled from a penalty in the 63rd minute but Gundogan restored City’s lead 10 minutes later. Another pair of errors by Alisson led to Sterling heading in the third before Foden powered in an angled drive.

It was a stylish way to seal a 14th successive win in all competitions for City, which won the title in 2018 and 2019 under Guardiola.

The trophy was surrendered meekly last season to City. At this stage last season, Liverpool had already established a 16-point lead over Guardiola’s second-place side.

Now Liverpool is even clinging onto fourth place to qualify for the Champions League.

A defense sorely missing Virgil van Dijk was breached the first time Sterling cut in past Trent Alexander-Arnold and Foden’s close-range shot was parried by Alisson directly to Gundogan to score and atone for his penalty miss.

It was a softly won penalty that allowed Salah to level after being dragged down by Ruben Dias to score Liverpool’s first goal at home in 411 minutes.

But Liverpool’s fragilities were exploited by the visitors again when Alisson cleared directly to Foden, who squared for Gundogan to lift the ball into an empty net.

The Brazilian goalkeeper was sitting on the turf aghast but worse was still to come. His attempted pass went straight to City midfielder Bernardo Silva who lifted the ball over Alisson at the near post and Sterling dived in to nod the ball over the line.

Alisson helplessly sprayed water over his head. Given his luck, he was fortunate the water didn’t freeze in these icy conditions.

He would be beaten by a moment of quality for the final goal as Foden went inside Andy Robertson before shooting high into the net.

“He is a guy who keeps the ball so well, who is so aggressive but he is so young,” Guardiola said of the 20-year-old Foden, who he called a “huge talent.”

“Hopefully he can understand and improve because in the first half he was not in the position we needed and that is why we suffer in some moments to have control.”

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