Raheem Sterling scored, won a penalty, and forced an own goal out of his former side as Manchester City gave Liverpool a guard of honor and then battered the newly-crowned champions 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.
Kevin De Bruyne had a goal and an assist to move within three assists of equalling Thierry Henry’s PL single-season record for assists (20). It would’ve been two but Sterling’s second goal was changed to an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal.
Phil Foden scored City’s other goal and Riyad Mahrez has a stoppage-time fifth chalked off by VAR under questionable circumstances. The runners-up are 20 points back of Liverpool with six matches left each.
The four goals allowed were the most by Liverpool in a Premier League game since an Oct. 2017 loss at Tottenham.
Three things we learned
1. Weirdest… guard of honor… ever: Man City gave the new Premier League champions a richly-deserved guard of honor, as the champs walked onto the pitch between two lines of applauding runners-up. The empty stands helped deliver an extremely awkward first welcome for the new kings of England.
— #MyPLSummer (@NBCSportsSoccer) July 2, 2020
2. Sterling cuts up the champs: Ex-Liverpool star Sterling twice got the better of Joe Gomez in the first half. The first time was an unholy battle in the box where the winger didn’t go down after a few legit fouls before hitting the deck under a lesser shove. De Bruyne fooled Alisson Becker and converted his penalty just before the first half water break.
The second goal was class even if his first touch to fool the center back was a little heavy before slotting past Alisson. HIs third went down as Alexander-Arnold own goal but was headed home anyway.
3. Hangover, Pt. IV? Liverpool did not have its finishing boots or foreheads in the first half-hour despite having a good amount of dangerous chances, so their performance coming out of the gates makes it hard to put the blowout down to mentality. Although maybe the club’s perpetual drive to become a title-winner took a that will take a minute to reclaim.
Regardless, when we wrote about the “What now?” of post-title Liverpool, we pointed out that the Reds’ biggest obstacle to boasting the best league season of all-time is what City did two seasons ago.
In 2017-18, City lost twice and drew four times, collecting 100 points while scoring 106 goals with a plus-79 goal differential. The Reds are now at two losses and two draws with six to play, sitting on 70 goals and a plus-46 GD.
Still the champions, though, and you wouldn’t put it past them to score six-a-game for a while.
Man of the Match (and Player of the Year)
De Bruyne. He’s just incredible, one of only five players to score 10-plus goals and 10-plus assists across Europe’s top five leagues (Jadon Sancho, Lionel Messi, Alassane…