LIVERPOOL, England — Manchester City’s 22-match unbeaten run in the Premier League came to a crashing halt with a 4-3 loss to Liverpool in a wild and thrilling game at Anfield on Sunday.
City finally stumbled at a ground where the team has a long history of struggles — with just one league win in 37 years — and was ultimately undone by nine minutes of madness around the hour mark when Liverpool scored three goals.
With the score at 1-1, Roberto Firmino deftly chipped goalkeeper Ederson Moraes to regain the lead for Liverpool in the 59th minute. Sadio Mane smashed a rising shot high into the net in the 61st and Mohamed Salah capitalized on a weak clearance from Ederson to score from 45 meters (yards) in the 68th.
All three goals featured errors by what was previously the tightest defense in the league, as City failed to handle Liverpool’s high press led by the irrepressible Firmino.
City threatened an amazing comeback after goals by Bernardo Silva, in the 84th, and Ilkay Gundogan, in the first minute of stoppage time, but Liverpool held on in a nervy finale.
Before Sunday, City had won 20 games and drawn its other two this season, leading many to believe Pep Guardiola’s side could emulate Arsenal’s “Invincibles” of the 2003-04 season.
Liverpool away always looked like being the toughest of City’s remaining 16 games and so it proved, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain putting the hosts in front in the ninth minute. Leroy Sane equalized just before halftime.
A triumph in 2003 was City’s only win at Anfield since 1981, and Guardiola’s team started as if it knew the recent history of the fixture.
Liverpool hounded and harassed City, with ex-Red Raheem Sterling in particular a target of Liverpool’s players and crowd. Firmino led the press from his position as central striker and it was the Brazilian’s hard work off the ball that created Liverpool’s goal.
Firmino dispossessed Fernandinho, allowing Oxlade-Chamberlain to take up the loose ball, run forward and send in an angled drive that flew low past goalkeeper Ederson.
Sterling was jeered relentlessly and even forced off the pitch at one point by marker Andrew Robertson. Later, he squared up to Robertson after a late clip of his heels and was then booked for a late challenge on Georginio Wijnaldum.
Sane’s equalizer came against the run of play and was avoidable, as far as Liverpool was concerned. Joe Gomez misjudged Kyle Walker’s long ball and Sane got in behind him, before jinking into the area and firing…