Liverpool were rampant over Manchester City in the opening salvo of the first-leg of their Champions League showdown.
Liverpool came flying out the gates and the fierce Anfield atmosphere combined with Klopp’s aggressive gegenpressing approach meant that Manchester City didn’t settle into the game. Liverpool stormed to a 3-0 lead in little over half an hour.
The last time Liverpool came to the Etihad Stadium it ended with Jurgen Klopp’s heaviest defeat in all competitions as Liverpool manager, a resounding 5-0 defeat. City are going to need another performance of that level to stand a chance at staying in this tie.
As good as Liverpool were on Wednesday night it is only half-time and as Liverpool fans well know a 3-0 lead isn’t always insurmountable.
“We have 90 minutes more” remarked Guardiola in his post-match press conference.
“We are going to create chances.”
Champions League knock out fixtures are games of four halves. While Liverpool dominated City in the first half, City responded in the second half. Particularly once Salah was taken off the field, Liverpool started to tire and drop back allowing City to settle into their usual rhythm.
They might not be returning to Manchester with an away goal but Pep will know that the players he has at his disposal have the ability to turn things around in the reverse fixture.
The first goal at the Etihad will be crucial. If Liverpool manage to score first than the tie will be all but over but on the other hand an early City goal would galvanise the City team and would be a real test to Liverpool’s defensive capabilities.
Just as City collapsed after the enigmatic Salah put Liverpool ahead so too could an early Aguero goal destabilise Liverpool’s bid to progress to the semi-final stages of the tournament for the first time since since the 2007/08 season.
Pundits have run out of superlatives for the forward. The African Player of the Year has been in immense form this season and had his hand in two of the Liverpool goals (1 goal, 1 assist) before limping off.
His removal had a noticeable impact on the game. Liverpool lost a useful outlet to attack and began surrendering possession to City, content to defend their lead.
If they continue in that fashion in the return fixture they will be inviting trouble.
The winger took to social media on Thursday to provide concerned fans an update. Salah’s Instagram account features a photo of the player having a scan on his injured groin.
When Klopp was asked whether the Premier League’s top goal scorer would feature in this weekend’s Merseyside Derby, he had said: “Mo, I don’t know. He said he feels sometimes, something, and that was enough to take him off.
“But he said after the game ‘all fine, all good’ but I hope that is the case. We have to wait.”
First blood to Liverpool and, with or without Salah, this is undoubtedly now their game to lose.