Liverpool F.C. may have lost a close match to Manchester City on Dec. 26, but manager Brendan Rodgers and the Reds left the pitch with their heads held high. Losing 2-1 at the Etihad in a truly thrilling match, the quality of play displayed on the Boxing Day match showed that Liverpool are contenders for the Premier League title.
Liverpool would have won the game had the referees made the right call. 19-year-old winger Rahim Sterling scored early, but it was disallowed as the linesman signaled him offside. Reds striker Luis Suarez was fouled inside the penalty area, but head referee called for a free kick outside the box instead. Rodgers criticized the match officials in a press conference after the game.
"I thought they were horrendous.” Rodgers said. “We had nothing go our way at all. I was surprised we're playing in Manchester with a referee from Greater Manchester. I didn't think we got any decision go for us.”
Shortly after Sterling’s clearly onside goal was disallowed in the 20th minute, Liverpool scored the first goal of the game. After a string of one-touch passes, Sterling found himself all alone inside the penalty area with only the goalkeeper to beat. Sterling touched it wide past City keeper Joe Hart and Phillipe Coutinho finished it off, 1-0 to Liverpool in the 25th minute.
Manchester City were quick to respond as Vincent Kompany headed in the equalizer off a corner kick in the 31st minute as the Liverpool defender was tugging at his shirt. City were able to mount a counter attack right before the first half came to a close which resulted in the game-winning goal. Yaya Toure got the ball out of the Manchester half and Alvaro Negredo had a clear path to goal a few passes later. Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet made the initial save with his right hand, but Negredo’s shot trickled into the back of the net. The score remained at 2-1 for the rest of the match in favor of Manchester City.
Liverpool controlled the momentum in the second half, but were not able to score on their chances. Had Suarez been awarded the penalty kick, the conversion would have Liverpool tied for second place with Chelsea F.C. in the Premier League table. With the loss, Liverpool sits in fourth place with 36 points as City sits in second behind Arsenal. Despite losing in disappointing fashion, the 19-year-old Rahim Sterling had hopeful remarks about the rest of the season.
"This is one of the top teams in the Premier League, so to come away and give such a strong performance just shows the belief in the team that we can go on and achieve things this year," Sterling said after the match.
The next match between these two high-caliber squads takes place on Apr. 12, 2014 when Manchester City heads to Liverpool for a surely heated rematch.