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Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane scored braces as Manchester City romped to a 5-0 win over 10-man Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Sergio Aguero and Jesus scored either side of a Sadio Mane red card in the first half, and Jesus added to his tally after the break before his replacement, Leroy Sane, bagged two late goals.
The Reds were guilty of missing a number of chances before Mane’s departure as they looked to capitalise on City’s shaky back line, and with better finishing, it could easily have been a different story.
Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho each had low efforts from distance stopped by Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the early stages as City looked to impose themselves on the contest, but the Reds looked threatening on the counter-attack amid an electric start.
Mohamed Salah had plenty of joy down the right as Nicolas Otamendi repeatedly found himself out of position, per Squawka Football:
Squawka Football @Squawka
HEAT MAP: 42.86% of Liverpool’s on the ball touches in the opening 15 minutes were on the right-hand side.
Targeting Otamendi’s channel. https://t.co/paPWPFuhYL
The Egyptian should have done better when he surged past the Argentinian to the byline, but instead of feeding Roberto Firmino a simple tap-in, he took the wrong option in firing straight into Ederson’s hands.
City punished the Reds’ failure to capitalise when Aguero latched onto De Bruyne’s slide-rule through ball and rounded Mignolet to give his side the lead in the 25th minute.
Salah again had another opportunity when he found himself in space on the right, only to fire a tame effort at Ederson. Football writer Tom McDermott was critical of his profligacy:
Tom McDermott @MrTomMcDermott
Abysmal from Salah. Opens the play up beautifully but his final ball is hopeless. Chances are he’ll get one right.
After John Stones came close to doubling City’s tally from a corner, the Reds were dealt a significant blow. Referee Jon Moss sent Mane off in the 37th minute for a high challenge on Ederson as the pair contested a 50-50 ball on the edge of the area, which required the goalkeeper to be stretchered off.
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The Guardian‘s Sachin Nakrani believed the forward was unfortunate, while Tom Williams of Agence France-Presse believed it was probably the right decision:
Sachin Nakrani @SachinNakrani
Mane had his eyes on the ball throughout and he’s rightly devastated – very harsh decision.
Tom Williams @tomwfootball
Sympathise with Mane, but if you kick someone in the face, you’re going to do well not to get sent off.
Liverpool’s afternoon got worse before the break when Jesus made it 2-0 six minutes into first-half injury time. The Brazilian twice headed home from De Bruyne crosses in the final minutes of the half, and while the first was correctly disallowed for offside, the second was allowed to stand.
After City had another rightly disallowed goal through Aguero following the break, the Argentinian turned provider for Jesus when he unselfishly offloaded Fernandinho’s defence-splitting pass for his strike partner to finish in the 53rd minute.
The Sky Blues were largely content to keep the ball with the victory all but wrapped up, but Benjamin Mendy was eventually rewarded for his marauding runs when he picked out Sane to fire home City’s fourth in the 77th.
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Sane added another one minute into stoppage time when he picked out the top corner with a superb curling effort from the edge of the area.
Mane could miss matches against Burnley and Leicester City, whom the Reds play twice in the Carabao Cup and the Premier League, and Liverpool will be unhappy at failing to take their chances early on.
As for City, the win stands them in good stead as they head into matches with Feyenoord and Watford, but it will be a blow if Ederson is unavailable.