A superb second-half goal from Mohamed Salah earned Liverpool a 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Sunday as the champions lost their unbeaten start to the Premier League season in a heated thriller that saw home coach Juergen Klopp red-carded.
Salah raced away from Joao Cancelo to slot home and earn Liverpool a much-needed victory after they came into the encounter having suffered their worst start to a Premier League season after eight games since 2012-13.
The Egypt international, like many of his team mates, had also struggled to get going, but after scoring the fastest Champions League hat-trick in Liverpool’s 7-1 rout of Rangers in midweek, his telling strike 14 minutes from fulltime continued his side’s mini-revival.
The win moved Liverpool up to eighth in the standings on 13 points, 10 behind second-placed City, who trail leaders Arsenal by four points.
“Our position is not the best and it is just one game so we have to carry on. Hopefully this gives us more confidence,” Salah, who had missed a similar opportunity to his goal earlier in the game, said.
“Today we created chances and when I missed the first I was calm because I knew the second would come. I just tried to stay focused and put it in the net because I missed the first one, and I got lucky.”
Something had to give as Liverpool came into the game unbeaten in their previous 27 home league matches, while City had not tasted defeat in 22 on the road.
However, after an opening period that failed to live up to the game’s blockbuster billing, with Erling Haaland, looking for his 21st goal of a remarkable season, twice going close for City, the second half began at a ferocious pace.
Salah was denied by a superb save from City goalkeeper Ederson moments after the break, before City then thought they had taken the lead through Phil Foden, only for it to be ruled out following a VAR review, Haaland deemed to have fouled Fabinho in the build-up.
City coach Pep Guardiola was furious on the touchline as the referee was asked to have another look and even more so when it was ruled out, turning around to remonstrate with several Liverpool supporters in the stands.
“The referee said play on, play on, play on, there were a thousand, million fouls like this and this one is because we scored a goal,” Guardiola said. “So they disallowed because we scored a goal, otherwise it would not have been disallowed.
“We lost because we make a mistake but this is Anfield.”
The Spaniard’s blood pressure would have gone through the roof if Diogo Jota had headed Salah’s superb cross into the net moments after City’s effort was ruled out, with the Portuguese forward missing the target from close range.
Liverpool kept coming at City after their VAR reprieve, with Salah spinning away superbly after a slip from Cancelo before firing the winner, sparking wild celebrations on the Kop.
Salah has now been directly involved in 14 goals against City in all competitions for Liverpool – nine goals, five assists – his most against any opponent for the Reds.
As City threw everything at Liverpool late on, tensions boiled over with Klopp sent to the stands for his over-zealous protestations against a foul he felt his side should have had.
The final pass was lacking for the visitors in the end as Liverpool held on for just their third league win of the season.