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Leroy Sane's 72nd-minute strike proved decisive as Manchester City reinvigorated their title defence and ended Liverpool's unbeaten Premier League run with a crucial 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Roberto Firmino looked to have sealed a potentially vital point for leaders Liverpool in the title race when he equalised just past the hour, but Sane struck soon after, confirming the Reds' first league defeat of the season in their 21st game and moving City to second and within four points of the summit.
Liverpool were mightily unlucky not to take an early lead when a defensive mix-up between John Stones and Ederson followed Sadio Mane hitting the post, but they survived and finished the first half well – Sergio Aguero netting in ruthless fashion.
Firmino restored parity in the 64th minute and City initially looked rattled, as if they could see the Premier League trophy moving out of sight, until Sane found the bottom-right corner to breathe life into their challenge once again.
A lively City start faded and they had a lucky escape in the 17th minute. Mohamed Salah released Mane into the box and the Senegal forward hit the post before Stones blasted his clearance against Ederson and hastily scrambled to clear off the line.
Vincent Kompany was fortunate to avoid being sent off for a wild lunge on Salah 14 minutes later and City capitalised on that let-off just before the break.
Bernardo Silva played a low cross from the left towards the near post, where Aguero nipped in front of Dejan Lovren and emphatically smashed past Alisson from a seemingly impossible angle.
Liverpool hit back 26 minutes from time, however, as Andrew Robertson latched on to a lofted pass and played a volleyed cross for Firmino to bury with a stooping header.
But City was not done. They caught Liverpool on the break and Sane found the net via the right post after being played into the box by Raheem Sterling.
A Liverpool onslaught followed, with Ederson tipping a Salah effort wide, before Bernardo Silva and Sterling missed glorious chances to finish the Reds off – luckily for them, no fightback came and the champions held on.
Chance! Salah squanders an opportunity to go level!
Goal! Leroy Sane thumps Man City back into the lead! The shot smashes against the upright and into the goal!
Goal! Roberto Firmino dives in to pull the scores level! 1-1!
39- Goal! City take the lead! Sergio Aguero smashes the ball into the net from the near post! City are still in the title race! That's goal 250 in the league for the Argentine striker!
Chance! Mane hits the post! Salah follows up, and his effort is just cleared off the line! So close for Liverpool! We are talking inches here!
Peep! We are underway!
Our man Matt Critchley has caught up the former Manchester City keeper Shay Given! Lovely stuff!
Ten minutes to go! Liverpool look ready!
My point exactly! Aguero has been on fire against Liverpool down the years! I wouldn't be surprised if he scored tonight!
Andy Gray has a look through his combined XI. Sound logic from the big man, although Mane for Aguero is crazy. In my humble opinion!
The moment you have all been waiting for! Andy Gray has revealed his combined Man City & Liverpool XI. What do you think about the choices!? Surely Aguero has to get into that side!
Former England keeper Paul Robinson runs the rule over Brazillian stoppers Ederson & Alisson! Who would you prefer in your side?
It's a big night for the Man City backline, Andy Gray doesnt think they will be able to keep out Salah and co tonight!
Liverpool are no strangers to leading the Premier League, but unlike 2014, John Barnes believes that the Reds can go all the way under Jurgen Klopp.
Can Pep inspire the Citizens to victory tonight? It's a tough ask for the defending Premier League champions!
Now for Liverpool, James Milner slots back into central midfield alongside Jordan Henderson in the two changes for the Reds.
So confirmation of those teams, first up Manchester City. Kompany captains the side, Fernandinho keeps his place in midfield. Kevin De Bryne and Riyad Mahrez are on the bench!
Here we go! ⚽️— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 3, 2019
City XI | Ederson, Danilo, Stones, Kompany (C), Laporte, Fernandinho, Silva, Sane, Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero
Subs | Muric, Walker, Gündogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Otamendi, Jesus
Presented by @haysworldwide 🔵 #mancity pic.twitter.com/Nd3GwZ0BnC
TEAM NEWS! Our Man Matt Critchley has all the latest team news!
Hold Up! Man City have arrived!
We are all set for the 23:00 Kick-Off! John Barnes & Paul Robinson join Keys & Gray in the studio! Expect fireworks as Andy Gray announces his combined Liverpool & Man City XI for the season so far!
Whatever else you had planned - cancel it & be sure you’re with us tonight on #beINSPORTS HD11 @ 22.00 Mecca. Andy Gray announces his combined City/Liverpool X1 - & there are one or two surprises for John Barnes 🤣. Paul Robinson judges Ederson & Allison. #simplythebest— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) January 3, 2019
Earlier yesterday, Jurgen Klopp showed plenty of respect to opponent Pep Guardiola labelling Manchester City as one of the best sides in the world. After the season Liverpool is having, surely the Reds are worth talking up in that bracket?!
Hello! Welcome to the Live Updates of Manchester City Vs Liverpool. The Reds can create a huge 10 point gap at the top of the table over rivals City with a win, and the pressure is firmly on Jurgen Klopp's side as the Premier League title race heads into the second half of the season. As ever, you can join me for all the latest team news, Live match Updates and match highlights from the Eithad.