LONDON: Manchester City left Liverpool’s title defense in tatters as Ilkay Gundogan’s double and two costly mistakes from Alisson Becker inspired the Premier League leaders’ dazzling 4-1 win, while Harry Kane starred in Tottenham’s 2-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion yesterday. Inspired by Gundogan’s goals and Phil Foden’s stylish display, City moved 10 points clear of fourth placed Liverpool after their first win at Anfield since 2003.
The troubled champions were blown away by Pep Guardiola’s side, who became the first team to score four times in a league game at Anfield in 12 years. City hold a five-point lead over second placed Manchester United and have a game in hand on their local rivals as they eye a third title in four seasons. They have won 14 successive games in all competitions to equal the record for an English top-flight club, set by Preston in 1892 and Arsenal in 1987.
Despite the prolonged absences of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, City have shrugged off their slow start to the season and sit in pole position to win the title. In stark contrast, Liverpool are in disarray after losing three consecutive home league games for the first time since 1963. They have won just two of their last nine league matches as injuries and fatigue take their toll.
Gundogan blasted a 38th minute penalty into the Kop after Fabinho’s trip on Raheem Sterling. But the Germany midfielder got back in Guardiola’s good books in the 49th minute after Sterling’s incisive run unhinged the Liverpool defense. Sterling found Foden inside the Liverpool area and when his low shot was parried by Alisson, Gundogan was on hand to thump home from close-range.
Liverpool were gifted a penalty in the 63rd minute after City defender Ruben Dias allowed Mohamed Salah to latch onto Trent Alexander-Arnold’s long pass and responded by pulling him down. Salah took the penalty himself, showing Gundogan how to do it as he shot high into the net for his 22nd goal this season. But Alisson made an even bigger mistake than Dias in the 73rd minute when the Liverpool keeper’s sloppy pass was intercepted by Foden.
Foden made a superb run through the heart of the Liverpool defense before cutting back for Gundogan to finish from virtually on the line. Alisson’s nightmare wasn’t over and in the 76th minute he again conceded possession with a woeful pass. This time, Bernardo Silva was the beneficiary and he chipped a cross to Sterling, who headed into the empty net. England midfielder Foden capped the rout in the 83rd minute, cut in from the right to blast past the shell-shocked Alisson.
Kane back in style
Jose Mourinho admitted Tottenham “depend” on Kane after the Tottenham striker delivered a dominant display on his return from injury. Mourinho’s side had lost their previous three Premier League games to put their top four hopes in peril. Revitalized by Kane’s earlier than expected return from an ankle problem suffered against Liverpool, Tottenham got back to winning ways just when the under-fire Mourinho needed it most.
Kane had missed the last two games, but he made up for lost time by opening the scoring in the second half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Kane’s 20th goal in all competitions this season took him to 208 goals in 317 Tottenham appearances – level in joint second place alongside Bobby Smith in the club’s all-time scoring list. The England captain’s milestone goal was followed by a Son Heung-min strike moments later to kill off West Brom.
“He is one of the best strikers in the world. Period,” Mourinho said. “There is nothing else to say. The team depends a lot on him, we can’t hide that. Leicester remain third after a 0-0 draw at Wolves. Jamie Vardy made his return from injury off the bench for the final half hour and had Leicester’s best chance in stoppage-time when he headed wide from close-range. – AFP