In a game of high tension throughout, Liverpool held their nerve to cement their position at the top of the Premier League.
It was a performance driven by passion and raw emotion. The Kop was swaying, with banners and the echoes of songs reminiscent of big European games.
Dissecting the game into the individual elements that made up the frantic contest seems unjust to a Liverpool performance won through mental strength and character.
It was testament to the work Brendan Rodgers has done at Anfield when Jon Flanagan put in a cracking slide tackle minutes after Philippe Coutinho had scored what would be the Reds’ winner.
Jordan Henderson’s red card for a rash two-footed challenge deep into injury time may seem like a major blow to Liverpool holding their ground for their remaining four games, but it could just have won the Reds the game.
A Sterling Performance
Raheem Sterling once again showed why he has been arguably Liverpool’s best player of the second half of the campaign, holding off the strength of City defenders with ease, keeping possession and linking Liverpool’s midfield and attack.
The 19-year-old was outstanding in his composure to take the first goal of the afternoon. Has the Premier League ever witnessed such a rapid maturity?
Sterling's pace and, now, intelligence will be crucial to Liverpool in the run-in, and the youngster must look to the likes of Gerrard and soak in the experience and inspiration his captain embodies.
As The Guardian's Daniel Taylor noted, Sterling's performance will have given England manager Roy Hodgson something to think about when he selects his World Cup squad.
Gerrard, attempting to hold back the tears at full-time, now knows he has the biggest job of his career to see through.
Liverpool will look to Gerrard and other more senior players to step up and take the last four games of the season by the scruff of the neck.
Each game now is an individual battle—wins can come in whatever size and shape they need to.
Edging past their title rivals Sunday proved Liverpool have the credentials to be champions, but a mature focus is still required, as Gerrard explained in his post-match interview on Sky Sports TV, as per ESPN:
There's still four big games to come but that meant so much especially when they got back into the game and you feared the worst at that point, but I think we showed today that we want to go to the wire, we want to go all the way.
Nothing's won yet, but that was probably the biggest statement we've made so far.
That was the longest 90 minutes I've probably ever played in. I kept flashing back to how long the clock was taking in cup finals and big games I've played in before but it felt like the clock was going backwards at some points of that game.
Gerrard dodged a two-match ban by avoiding picking up his 10th yellow card of the season against City and will play a vital role in Liverpool’s midfield and overall drive in Henderson’s absence.
He’s no stranger to pressure either, but this is his biggest test of character to date.
At the risk of sounding clichéd—remember Istanbul.
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