Manchester City came from behind to win 2-1 at home against Liverpool on Thursday and move up to second place in the Premier League.
Vincent Kompany and Alvaro Negredo scored first-half goals for City to cancel out Philippe Coutinho's opener for Liverpool. The visitors had another goal ruled out incorrectly in the first half for offside.
"It was important, when we were losing 1-0, to have the character and personality to go for the match," Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said, per @PremierLeague.
The victory was City's ninth in as many home matches this season. Pellegrini's side have 38 points, one fewer than leaders Arsenal. Liverpool, who entered the day atop the table, are now fourth with 36 points.
"Overall I was very proud of the team…," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said, per @PremierLeague. "The game was right in the balance up to the final whistle."
Full-back Pablo Zabaleta returned to the Manchester City lineup following an injury layoff, while Joleon Lescott started in defense, and winger Jesus Navas also came into the side. Liverpool made only one change, with Aly Cissokho replacing Jon Flanagan at left-back.
City entered the match with a staggering record at the Etihad, having won all eight previous home matches this season by a combined 35-5 scoreline. Liverpool, meanwhile, won 5-0 at Tottenham Hotspur recently and topped the table at Christmas.
The hosts started brightly, sending several waves of flowing attacks at Liverpool in the early exchanges.
Navas came close to giving City the lead in the fifth minute, directing a header off the far upright from a tight angle on the right following a cross from the left. Negredo flashed a first-time shot wide in the 18th minute.
Two minutes later, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling put the ball in the net after slipping behind City's defense. The linesman ruled Sterling offside, however, and the goal was ruled out. Replays showed the linesman's decision was incorrect.
Liverpool had taken control, though, and in the 24th minute, the Reds were ahead.
The flag stayed down as Luis Suarez flicked on a pass to free Sterling inside City's box. Sterling took the ball around the onrushing Joe Hart and left it for Coutinho, who finished from a tight angle to put Liverpool up 1-0.
It was only the second time all season City had trailed at the Etihad. The previous time, after falling behind Everton in October, the Blues won 3-1. Just like in that match, the hosts' deficit didn't last long.
In the 31st minute, David Silva swung in a corner from the left. Vincent Kompany beat Martin Skrtel and nodded a bouncing header into the goal to make it 1-1.
Manchester City came close to scoring a second after a break two minutes later, but Navas finished the rapid break with a shot off target. Liverpool responded with a fine move in the 40th minute, but Hart made a good save to deny Coutinho.
City ultimately scored their second goal in first-half stoppage time, catching Liverpool on a quick counter. Navas picked out Negredo with a cross-field pass, and Negredo finished with the outside of his left foot. Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet got a touch, but only enough to see the ball bounce into the net.
The hosts went into half-time leading 2-1, but within moments of the restart, Liverpool were pressing for an equalizer. Jordan Henderson sliced a shot over the bar in the 48th minute, and one minute later Suarez forced Hart into a save with a shot from a tight angle on the left.
Coutinho made way for Victor Moses in the 68th minute as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers shuffled his lineup in search of a goal. James Milner replaced Samir Nasri four minutes later for City; then Negredo limped off in the 77th minute and was replaced by Edin Dzeko.
Rodgers responded by throwing on Iago Aspas for Lucas Leiva, but despite pushing for the equalizer until the final minute, the Reds were unable to find a second goal. Suarez had a late penalty appeal when it appeared Lescott grabbed his shirt in the box, but referee Lee Mason waved play on.
As well as Suarez has played thus far, he failed to produce when it mattered most.
|Manchester City Player Ratings vs. Liverpool|
|Liverpool Player Ratings vs. Manchester City|
Both teams have crowded holiday fixture lists ahead.
Manchester City host Crystal Palace on Saturday and play at Swansea City on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Both are Premier League matches. City then play at Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup third round on Jan. 4.
Liverpool play at Chelsea on Sunday before hosting Hull City on New Year's Day. The Reds then host Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup third round on Jan. 5.