Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Title Hopes Left on the Ropes

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Title Hopes Left on the Ropes

Article excerpt

CITY need a title surge - and a Liverpool blow-up - reminiscent of 2012 if they are to pull off another remarkable comeback triumph.

The Blues appeared to have done just that in this game, when they looked bedraggled and beaten at 2-0 down, with Yaya Toure having limped off and skipper Vincent Kompany only looking half-fit.

Inspired by the arrival of sub James Milner and the brilliance of David Silva, they seemed to have pulled a draw out of the bag.

The City defence was dreadful in the first half as Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel put the home side ahead, but the second half was a different story as Silva scored one and forced an own goal from Glen Johnson.

But the Blues were undone by Kompany's error - he also was partly at fault for the first two - as Philippe Coutinho scored the winner.

Referee Mark Clattenburg played a part in City's defeat, failing to spot two clear penalties and refusing to send off Luis Suarez for the Dive of the Season, when he had already been booked.

But, on a day of raw emotion, and a few tears, Liverpool were not to be denied.

Canny Bill Shankly did not get a lot wrong, but his oft-repeated saying about football being more important than life and death was proved horribly inaccurate at Hillsborough 25 years ago.

The tributes paid to the 96 who lost their lives that day were deeply moving and the City fans paid their respects with a banner simply reading 'YNWA 96', standing for 'You'll Never Walk Alone', while Tony Book, Mike Summerbee and Joe Corrigan presented floral tributes from the club.

The minute's silence was filled with emotion and the energy generated seemed to transmit itself to the Liverpool players.

From the kick-off Liverpool were sharper, stronger and knew where they were going - they had a plan.

City, by contrast, seemed to be intent on trying to put Suarez out of his stride - a tactic that led directly to the first goal.

Martin Demichelis tried to muscle the squat, powerful Uruguayan and bounced off, and then Gael Clichy flew in to try the same, with the same result.

Suarez stayed on the ball and slid a pass through to Raheem Sterling, just inside the box and that is where the Blues' defending really started to get woeful.

Joe Hart came off his line even though Sterling was covered by Kompany, who was standing too far off the tricky forward.

Kompany had been an injury doubt right until kick-off, with Manuel Pellegrini pondering whether to pull him out or not. But he played, and when Sterling twisted one way and turned the other, it left both the Belgian defender and Hart stranded, giving the Liverpool man a wide gap to fire a shot through and into the net.

That was six minutes in, and Liverpool were full of poise and confidence while City were struggling to string two passes together. The Blues also saw Toure limp off with a groin problem after ballooning a shot high and wide, as if their misery could not get any more acute, with Javi Garcia replacing him. …

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