The first half, and the three goals that came with it, was impressive. The noise of Anfield and the pace and press of the deadly direct Liverpool counter added up to something stunning. Yet it was a stunning—a famous European night in the stands and arguably Europe’s most dangerous attack on the pitch—that wasn’t entirely unexpected.
The degree, perhaps. That an unsteadied Manchester City were down three by the end of it. But in its broad strokes a raucous weeknight crowd and Liverpool scoring goals isn’t exactly a new thing. What might be new, and might be at least as impressive, was what happened next; what happened in the second when Liverpool defended their lead.
“There were moments when we had to stick together,” said goalkeeper Loris Karius of Liverpool’s defensive effort in the second half to preserve the clean sheet and see out the 3-0 lead they earned in the opening 45. “We were deeper than in other moments of the game but that’s what you expect against a team like this.
“You can’t press for 90 minutes. There are other moments and we defended perfectly, starting from the front all the way to the back. That’s the only way you can do it. We played at our highest level. We’re a good football team. We defended really good. They had their moments, but they weren’t really clear.”
City had their moments, and they had pressure pressure. They also had more of the ball in the second half. And Liverpool were forced deeper as the game wore on. But City’s chances weren’t clear ones, with Liverpool preventing the runaway domestic league leaders and top scorers from recording a single shot target all night.
Liverpool’s defence, much maligned at times this season and in recent years, deserves a lot of the credit for that. Karius, though, said the fans had a role in it, too, giving the players energy towards the end of the match as their legs began to tire; helping to push them to keep City’s dangerous attack at bay for just a few minutes more.
”It’s probably the best result you can ask for,” he added. “The fans pushed us to get over the fatigue. They were amazing and played a big part. When it gets harder, when you have to stick together. The fans push you on to go over that point where it hurts. When you see the fans supporting you like this, you want to pay them back.”