Liverpool humble City ... again
Magnificent Liverpool humbled bottom club Manchester City for the second time in four days with a majestic performance to keep up the pressure on Premiership leaders Newcastle.
Having dumped Alan Ball's side mercilessly out of the Coca-Cola Cup 4-0 on Wednesday, Liverpool hammered another six past them today to leave City nailed firmly to the foot of the table with salvation already starting to look like an impossible dream.
Liverpool took the lead after just three minutes. Robbie Fowler crossed for Jason McAteer and, although his shot was blocked by keeper Eike Immel, Ian Rush was on hand to turn home his first Premiership goal of the season. Two minutes later, Jamie Redknapp scored the second with a fierce 20-yard free-kick which took a deflection to leave Immel flat-footed.
There were several near misses but no more goals in the first-half, but it was only to prove a temporary respite for City, and Liverpool were back in business with a goal of exceptional quality two minutes after the break.
First-time passes from John Scales and Steve McManaman released Mark Wright down the right and his centre found Fowler, who showed composure and skill to beat two men on the edge of the box and arrow a low shot beyond Immel's dive.
Six minutes later, Redknapp's right-wing corner was met with an unstoppable header by the unmarked Neil Ruddock, a first-half substitute for the injured John Barnes.
Fowler grabbed his second on the hour, turning deftly on McAteer's cross to fire home from close range. Rush matched him with his second after 64 minutes, picking up the pieces after Immel saved from Redknapp. The Welsh ace miscued his shot, but there was an inevitability about the bounce that saw the ball loop gently over poor Immel and into the net. The City keeper had had a much better game than the scoreline reflects, producing a series of fine saves, notably two to deny Fowler and a good stop to thwart McManaman when he was clean through.
But the rest of City's hapless players contributed little. Their fans deserve an honourable mention for a stream of ironic and witty chants that may not have done much for team morale but certainly added to the entertainment -- "Alan Ball is a football genius" was among the highlights.
Manchester City boss Alan Ball described Liverpool's performance as "irresistible" after his side crashed 6-0 at Anfield today. And he wants his beleaguered side to learn from the footballing lesson they were given by the Reds. "As daft as it may see, I enjoyed the game. I enjoyed Liverpool. They're everything I believe in about how the game should be played. They totally outclassed us and got the start they wanted. From then on I had to sit back and admire them."
Ball was clearly angered by a suggestion from a reporter that such comments would not please the City fans. He said: "You've got to look at the overall picture and be brutally honest. There is no point in trying to kid yourself. We have got to go away and learn from it and hopefully some of the young players will learn from it as well because that is what I preach to them."
Ball pointed to the early loss of the injured Georgi Kinkladze who was going to hospital to have his left ankle examined, and injuries carried by two other players, Garry Flitcroft and Ian Brightwell. But he refused to criticise the City fans who ridiculed their side during the second half, commenting: "It is a trait in England that happens in every walk of life and I can understand their frustration. This crowd have been magnificent for this team. They would give them everything they have got, but they saw their team outclassed today and it hurt them and they were frustrated. It was their strength that they could take it on the chin and that's what we've got to do as a club. I have got no qualms at all about the fans and they will be admired tonight by people in Liverpool. The fans are suffering and I can understand that." But he stressed: "If you want me to tell lies and kid people I am not prepared to do that -- it's not my way. The fight will go on -- we will win that fight -- I have never said anything different. I am just trying to be brutally honest about the game of football today. If I am trying to be honest with my players and myself I have also got to be honest with the fans."
Copyright - Press Association