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Premier League 2018-19: Manchester City tightens the title race after Liverpool win

ANALYST
Feature
439   //    04 Jan 2019, 04:49 IST

Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League

In what could be the most pivotal match of the season, Pep Guardiola's team marched on to a 2-1 win against Liverpool to stay within four points of the league leaders. After a 20-game unbeaten run in the league, the Reds are beaten for the first time this season.

Manchester City started brightly but Liverpool had the big opportunity of the game. Mohamed Salah released Sadio Mane with a lovely through ball on the 18th minute and Mane tried to slot it past the keeper but struck the post.

Seconds later, John Stones made a goal-line clearance after his initial clearance was blocked by Ederson and almost went in for a goal. Review of the play saw the ball missing merely by 1.2 centimeters through the goal-line technology.

Sergio Aguero opened up the scoring for the Citizens courtesy of a lovely assist from Bernardo Silva near the by-line five minutes before the end of the first half. Liverpool then equalized in the 64th minute as two full-backs influenced the goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold crossed the ball towards an unmarked Andrew Robertson on the far post before Robertson flicked it towards the path of Roberto Firmino who headed the ball past Ederson.

However, their joy was short-lived when City saw an opening eight minutes after the equalizer. Raheem Sterling made a lovely run past the defenders while Aguero pulled the remaining fullbacks to him to open up the space for Leroy Sane. Sane did brilliantly to slot it past the Liverpool keeper to make it 2-1.

What happens to the title race now?

Now that Liverpool already received their first defeat in the league, it is inevitable to talk about the odds of the title slipping away from their grasps. Rewinding back to five years ago, Steven Gerard literally let the title slip away from them against Chelsea.

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With the goal-line clearance by Stones and a marginal 1.2 centimeter-miss for that precious goal, who knows what could've been the result of this match.

The players are performing well until the very moment Sane scored the marginal goal. Yes, they were a bit sloppy in the offense as well as in defense, but they still showed great heart in getting back into the game.

Another thing is that Liverpool's still four points clear at the top of the table. Looking at the next five league matches for the leaders, they will be up against the likes of Brighton, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, West Ham United, and Bournemouth.

On the other hand, the champions will be going a bit bumpy path in their next five league fixtures. They will face Wolverhampton Wanderers, Huddersfield, and Newcastle United before going into two crucial matches against Arsenal and Chelsea. This road might be a bit different for City as a defeat or a draw against the two London clubs could prove costly.

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