Manchester City's Aguero, Fernandinho both 9/10 in must-win against Liverpool
MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City brought themselves back into the title race with a tension-packed 2-1 victory over leaders Liverpool on Thursday. Sergio Aguero smashed City into a 40th-minute lead before Roberto Firmino headed the leaders level in the second half. But Leroy Sane's drilled finish secured the win to cut Liverpool's lead to four points.
City got over their Liverpool jinx, just as it was potentially beginning to become a big problem. Pep Guardiola's side hadn't beaten them in their past four encounters, but they put an end to that run by matching Liverpool's dogged and determined football.
This wasn't a vintage City performance. At their peak, Guardiola's Barcelona controlled big games, but this was fast, frenetic, old-fashioned English football. With goal-line clearances and last-ditch tackles, this wasn't the cool, calculated football we've come to expect.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- While Jurgen Klopp had the luxury of picking his ideal starting XI, with the exception of Joe Gomez, Guardiola was forced to put square pegs in round holes. His decision to play Aymeric Laporte at left-back was a brave one after his nightmare against Liverpool there in the Champions League. City just about got away with it, although they missed some of his strength in the centre of defence.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 7 -- Nearly scored a calamitous own goal that could have ended City's title challenge. Got away with it but was lost on a couple of occasions coming for crosses, although he made a big save late on from Mohamed Salah.
DF Danilo, 7 -- Surprisingly started ahead of Kyle Walker and offered plenty of energy while shutting down Liverpool's attack on the left flank. Got caught under the ball in the buildup to the equaliser.
DF John Stones, 7 -- Had a couple of uncomfortable moments in the first half but never stopped and made crucial contributions in the second half.
DF Vincent Kompany, 7 -- Could have conceivably seen red for a poor challenge on Salah but showed the battling spirit he has always brought on big nights for City.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 6 -- Difficult night, switched to left-back and the task of keeping Salah quiet. Will be relieved to get through the game without a major error and hope to be back in his central defensive spot soon.
MF Fernandinho, 9 -- Showed why he's been such a miss in recent defeats. His ability to stop attacks when opposition teams break the press is crucial and he did it on plenty of occasions against Liverpool.
MF Bernardo Silva, 8 -- High-energy performance in the centre of midfield and made a crucial contribution to set up the opener for Aguero.
MF David Silva, 6 -- Unusual outing for the experienced Spaniard, he failed to impose himself on the game but never stopped running.
FW Raheem Sterling, 7 -- Has never had his best games against his former club. Not much joy going forward and lost Andrew Robertson for the equaliser.
FW Sergio Aguero, 9 -- Outstanding movement gave Dejan Lovren problems throughout and slammed in an emphatic opener from a tight angle.
FW Leroy Sane, 8 -- His battle with Trent Alexander-Arnold was the most intriguing on the pitch. Beat the England full-back on a couple of occasions and smacked in a sensational strike.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 6 -- Played deeper and gave City a bit more control.
DF Kyle Walker, N/R -- Late change, never a factor.
D/F Nicolas Otamendi, N/R -- Replaced hobbling Kompany.