Stunning Reds too slick for City
THEY may have a bottomless pit of cash but Manchester City discovered last night that there are some things money can’t buy.
Liverpool sent the Premier League’s big spenders packing in emphatic fashion with a remarkable performance.
Of course a big chunk of the damage was done by the most expensive British player in history as two-goal Andy Carroll lit up Anfield.
But there were heroes in red all across the famous turf as the Reds shrugged off their injury troubles with a display packed full of guts and character. This was a stunning triumph in the face of adversity.
You can have a side packed full of millionaire superstars but if they aren’t playing for each other or their manager you’re fighting a losing battle.
Liverpool don’t have any such worries. Kenny Dalglish has instilled a sense of unity, team spirit and togetherness at Anfield over the past three months and it shone during a scintillating 90 minutes.
The Reds produced class in abundance but crucially it was coupled with a burning desire to succeed and total commitment.
If there were any doubts left in the minds of the club’s owners about whether to give Dalglish the job on a permanent basis surely they were banished last night.
The Kop certainly spoke with one voice and left John Henry and Tom Werner in no doubt who they believe is best placed to turn their hopes and dreams into reality.
This performance was a ringing endorsement of what the Scot has achieved since picking up the pieces of Roy Hodgson’s sorry reign and an exciting glimpse into what the future could hold during the King’s second stint in the Liverpool hot-seat.
With plans in place for a big summer of transfer activity at Anfield, the platform is there for Liverpool to use the past few months as a springboard and reclaim their place among the Premier League’s elite after a barren two years.
Fears that the Reds’ season could simply fizzle out in the absence of key names were allayed as this thumping victory kept their hopes of Europa League qualification alive.
It was sweet revenge for the embarrassing defeat the Reds endured under Hodgson at Eastlands back in August.
Liverpool flew out of the traps and started at a tempo City simply failed to live with. The movement was clever and the passing precise.
Inside six minutes Dirk Kuyt fired over after Carroll and Luis Suarez had combined to tee him up.
The Reds’ £57.8million strikeforce, starting at Anfield together for the first time, continued to wreak havoc. Carroll’s clever pass sent Suarez racing through and it took a fine finger tip save from Joe Hart to tip his shot on to the post.
For too long this season Liverpool were toothless up front as they put their faith in a striker whose heart already lay away from Anfield.
Now in his place they possess a top class double act with the ability to terrorise defences for years to come.
Suarez’s impact on the Premier League has been nothing short of outstanding. The Uruguayan plays like he has rocket fuel in his boots and City simply couldn’t handle his dazzling skills and lightning quick feet.
Injury ensured the start to Carroll’s Anfield career has been less eye-catching but last night he began to make up for lost time.
The moment he had waited for since his dramatic transfer deadline day switch from Newcastle arrived in the 13th minute.
Raul Meireles’ ambitious effort was blocked by Vincent Kompany but Carroll pounced and unleashed a fizzing 20-yarder past Hart. It wasn’t in the corner but it didn’t need to be as the sheer brute force of the strike left the keeper flailing.
Three months of frustration was forgotten as Carroll showed why Liverpool were prepared to shell out £35million for his services.
His second goal 10 minutes before the break was very different but just as special.
Too often in recent weeks the service into Carroll has been poor but this time were no complaints.
Meireles’ curling cross from the left was crying out to be attacked and Carroll didn’t disappoint as he soared above Aleksandar Kolarov to power home a header.
At 3-0 up Liverpool and Carroll were in dreamland. Less than 60 seconds earlier Kuyt had doubled the Reds’ lead with a cool side-footed finish after Aurelio’s strike had been deflected into his path.
The front two were outstanding but the supporting cast were just as influential.
Jay Spearing has already proved he’s undaunted by big reputations around him and last night he showcased his growing confidence. The way he has stepped up to the plate in the absence of Steven Gerrard has been mightily impressive.
Snapping into tackles and using the ball intelligently, Spearing ensured it was a torrid evening for Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure.
Injuries to Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson coupled with the continued absence of Martin Kelly had left Dalglish down to the bare bones defensively.
Fabio Aurelio returned with aplomb at left-back after a month out with a hamstring injury and on the other side John Flanagan enjoyed a hugely promising debut.
The 18-year-old Academy starlet’s call-up was reward for his outstanding displays at Academy and reserve team level this season and he hardly put a foot wrong.
Flanagan certainly wasn’t overawed by the occasion and one crunching challenge on Barry nearly raised the roof. Dalglish’s faith in the youngster was richly rewarded.
After a breathtaking first half, the second half was less dramatic but Liverpool’s stranglehold on proceedings never loosened.
Kuyt and Suarez should have piled on the misery for City before Carroll went agonisingly close to completing a hat-trick but it mattered little.
On the night Anfield fell silent to remember the 96 supporters who died at Hillsborough 22 years ago this was the best possible way for the team to honour their memory. City were outclassed and outfought. This was priceless.
"Andy’s scored his first goals today - it has been tough for him after injury, but he’s played very well. No-one is more happy than Andy, but his team-mates are happy for him too. He’s very good in air and can score with feet - he’s a big threat." DIRK KUYT on the impact of new signing Andy Carroll after he scored his first goal for the Reds.
"Tonight I made a mistake, it was my fault. I think the players can do better, but I made a mistake. I know (what the mistake was). It is for me. I am sorry for the fans. We only started to play after 20 minutes." ROBERTO MANCINI after the defeat.
Man of the match: ANDY CARROLL: Opened his Anfield account in memorable fashion, hammering home a stunning opener early on before nodding in his second before the break. A constant threat and Man City simply couldn't handle him.
Next match: ARSENAL, away, Premier League, Sunday, April 17 (4pm).
LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1): Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Kuyt, Lucas, Spearing, Meireles, Suarez, Carroll (Ngog 90). Not used: Gulacsi, Cole, Maxi, Wilson, Shelvey, Robinson.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Hart, Boyata, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, Toure Yaya, Milner (Silva 59), Tevez (Balotelli 16), Adam Johnson, Dzeko, Balotelli (De Jong 83). Subs Not Used: Taylor, Zabaleta, Wright-Phillips, McGivern.
GOALS: Carroll 13, Kuyt 34, Carroll 35.
CARDS: Liverpool: Aurelio. REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).
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