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Manchester City 1, Liverpool 2 (Agg. 1-5): First Thoughts

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The Reds survive a scare in the first half to book their ticket in the Champions League semifinal! ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ!

Manchester City v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images,

Manchester City 1: Jesus 2’
Liverpool 2: Salah 56’, Firmino 77’

  • Pre-match Thought: It’s an attacking line-up from Pep, with lots of space for a returning Mohamed Salah to attack into. If Liverpool want to go through, their job will become infinitely easier with a goal or three. So let’s do that.
  • Sadio Mane wastes no time putting a boot through Kevin De Bruyne, leading to a dangerous free kick out wide in the opening minute. Aggression is good, but careful out there, lads.
  • Goal. Fuck. That is not the way start, Virgil van Dijk is booted off the park, but the ref waves play on, and City capitalize in the first two minutes. Time for a response.
  • Mane, whose pressing has been good since the goal, picks up an early caution after a coming together with Otamendi (who made a meal of it).
  • City are absolutely throwing men forward, and Liverpool are not doing well to relieve the pressure. This is exactly what we wanted to avoid.
  • And now Trent Alexander-Arnold is in the book. Great first half so far. Yesh.
  • Raheem Sterling doing damned near everything in his power to win a penalty. The ref has done well to wave play on twice in quick succession after Sterling went down with minimal contact.
  • And now Roberto Firmino is in the book. Please please please keep all 11 men on the pitch, Liverpool.
  • Forty minutes in and Liverpool managed their first shot, courtesy of an Oxlade-Chamberlain strike from outside the box. Unfortunately, it was directly at Ederson.
  • Heart attack time! City go close not once, but twice as they finish the half in a flourish. First they rattle the far post with a shot, and then a goal is (maybe not correctly) called off for offside.
  • Ox and Salah nearly combine for that coveted away goal before the half, but the former Arsenal man cannot turn his shot goalward from a tight angle.
  • Halftime Thought: Other than the scoreline, about as bad as a first half as can be imagined. City scored one, but it could have been 3. They’ve outshot Liverpool 13-2, with 71% possession. Klopp needs to settle the lads, and the attacking trio need to be much more clinical around the final third. And Pep has been sent to the stands. So that’s something, at least.
  • Two minutes into the second half and we haven’t conceded. A marked improvement from the first. Only 43 minutes plus stoppage time to go.
  • Liverpool are finally growing into the game, keeping a bit more possession than they were capable of in the first half.
  • GOAL! IT HAD TO BE MO SALAH! Mo plays in Mane, who manages to get in on goal. The Senegalese cannot beat Ederson, but he’s followed in by Mo, who chips the City defender from a tight angle. ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ!!!
  • And Van Dijk goes into the book for some post-tackling shenanigans involving Sterling. If Liverpool hold on for the win, it won’t be without a cost.
  • Lovren nearly scored a spectacular own goal. Thankfully his headed deflection just cleared the crossbar and the two sides remain on level terms.
  • GOAL!! Bobby Firmino drives into the box, and hits a low shot off the far post and in to make it two! Hard to see a way back from City now, and the Traveling Kop will be singing “Allez Allez Allez” for the rest of the match, no doubt.
  • Firmino and TAA come off for Nathaniel Clyne and Ragnar Klavan. Let’s see this one out lads.
  • Mo Salah comes off for Danny Ings. The Traveling Kop stops singing “Allez” long enough to sing Salah’s praises, as they should.
  • Final Whistle Thought: Let’s take a moment to pour one out for all the Reds with heart conditions that are no longer with us after the first half. But Liverpool survived the first half assault, and a moment of magic from Salah effectively killed the tie early in the second. Not only did the Reds survive, but they won the tie, and booked their ticket to the semifinals for the first time since 2008.

We’ll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today’s game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven’t already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we’ll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.