Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City: Ruthless Reds reap cup final revenge with excellent performance

Liverpool exacted revenge for Sunday's Capital One Cup final defeat as they beat Manchester City 3-0 at Anfield on Wednesday night thanks to goals from Adam Lallana, James Milner and Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City: Ruthless Reds reap cup final revenge with excellent performance
(Picture: Getty Images)
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Manchester City
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Touré, Lovren, Flanagan, Henderson, Can, Milner (Ibe, min. 87), Lallana, Firmino (Allen, min. 74), Origi (Benteke, min. 69).
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy (Kolarov, min. 73), Kompany (C), Otamendi, Fernando, Fernandinho (Iheanacho, min. 55), Navas, Silva, Sterling (Bony, min. 45), Agüero.
SCORE: 1-0, min. 33, Lallana. 2-0, min. 41, Milner. 3-0, min. 57, Firmino.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson (ENG). Yellow cards: Navas (min. 67)
INCIDENTS: Barclays Premier League matchday 28 clash between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield, in front of 43,597 spectators.

Liverpool took emphatic revenge against Manchester City as they severely damaged their opponent's title hopes with a convincing 3-0 Anfield win in the Barclays Premier League on Wednesday night.

Meeting just three days after the Capital One Cup final which went in City's favourAdam Lallana broke the deadlock on the half-hour by catching out Joe Hart with a shot from range, before James Milner rounded off a fine team move to put the Reds in control at half-time.

Before the hour mark, Lallana was at the heart of another fine attacking move as he danced through some challenges before teeing up Roberto Firmino, who despatched his chance well as the home side romped to a convincing win. 

Lallana opens the scoring with a strike from range. (Picture: Getty Images)
Lallana opens the scoring with a strike from range. (Picture: Getty Images)

With six points now separating Liverpool and fourth-placed City and a game in hand on all their close rivals, it remains to be seen whether Jürgen Klopp's side can kickstart a late charge towards the top-four, still sitting in eighth, but this result and their near faultless performance will have done their confidence no harm whatsoever, as well as leaving City 10 points off of top.

Klopp makes changes across the board 

Just days after losing out to City on penalties in the final of the Capital One Cup, the Reds met Manuel Pellegrini's men in the hope of taking at least slight vengeance for their Wembley defeat.

Having spoken about fielding the best line-up he possibly could in his pre-match press conference, Jürgen Klopp's team was actually the weaker of the two on paper as the German manager made five changes to the team that started in the national stadium. 

In defence, Kolo Touré - who played much of the final after replacing the injured Mamadou Sakho in the first-half - partnered Dejan Lovren in defence and Jon Flanagan replaced Alberto Moreno, although Nathaniel Clyne actually moved to the left and Flanagan played on the right.

With the exact same midfield trio, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi came in up-front with Philippe Coutinho dropped to the bench and Daniel Sturridge absent from the squad after suffering from cramp late on in the final, whilst Lucas Leiva was also out because of a muscle problem suffered when taking his penalty.

City, meanwhile, made three changes as Yaya Touré, who scored the decisive spot-kick on Sunday, made way with penalty-saving hero Willy Caballero replaced by Joe Hart in goal and Pablo Zabaleta coming in for Bacary Sagna at right-back. 

Although City were the ones more in need of the three points, going into the game 10 points behind league leaders Leiceser City as they continued to entertain hopes of winning the title, it was the hosts who started the more positively.

Flanagan's crunching tackle on Raheem Sterling, returning to Merseyside for the first time since his controversial £49 million move down the M62 in the summer, quickly indicated their intentions and going forward they looked bright as they enjoyed significant swathes of possession. 

It still took them some time to create anything of note, however, as early set-pieces led to little due to poor deliveries. The Reds' promising link-up continually threatened, only for their final ball to let them down and prevent them from creating any real openings.

Liverpool take time to create chances despite being better side

The first shot on target didn't come until the 21st minute as Firmino found himself in space to control Lallana's pass actually meant for Origi, but his edge-of-the-box shot was a fairly routine save for Hart to make.

Up the other end, City soon began to demonstrate some of their threat as Simon Mignolet was forced to beat away Pablo Zabaleta's by-line cross before Jesus Navas' cross-cum-shot zipped just wide of the far post with Sergio Aguero just a few feet away from turning it goalbound.

Liverpool, meanwhile, were still caught wanting with their final ball as Flanagan lacked the slight bit of pace to reach Emre Can's diagonal pass in behind as the Reds continued to play the more encouraging free-flowing football.

Flanagan, making his first league start since May 2014, continued playing as if to prove the point that he warrants a new contract in a few months' time, recovering from an error that saw him dispossessed as he rushed back to thwart Aguero inside his own box.

Two goals in eight minutes put hosts in the ascendancy

Then, as if out of nowhere, Liverpool hit the front when Lallana received the ball in space and with Vincent Kompany backing off, he strolled a few yards forward and struck a low 25-yard drive which Hart found himself in wrong position for, allowing his compatriot's precise right-footed effort to nestle into the bottom corner.

Buoyed by that effort, Liverpool took just eight more minutes to forge an excellent second. Lallana backheeled the ball into the path of Firmino down the right side and he then swept a pinpoint pass into the feet of Milner in a central position. He did well to control and set himself through on goal, reacting quickly to Hart coming off his line by poking past his former teammate and into the back of the net courtesy of the inside of the post.

Milner celebrates the goal which made it 2-0 to Liverpool. (Picture: Getty Images)
Milner celebrates the goal which made it 2-0 to Liverpool. (Picture: Getty Images)

Klopp's side were called in to some defending to ensure they protected their two-goal advantage into the break, though, as Flanagan excellently tracked Sterling's dart into the box and denied him a shooting opportunity before Milner blocked Aguero's header destined for goal from a David Silva free-kick.

Then, after Sterling's half-time substitution had been well received by the home fans, the Reds went close to a third early into the second-half as Flanagan's forward ball set Milner racing away. He slipped Origi into the inside channel, but his low shot across the six-yard box was squirmed away underneath Hart's crossbar.

Liverpool add to their lead on the hour

Pellegrini opted to go for broke before the hour, throwing on Kelechi Iheanacho alongside Aguero and Wilfried Bony up front, but it far from paid off - as Liverpool made it 3-0 with yet another excellent goal just a few moments later.

The sublime Lallana danced through a number of challenges on the counter-attack before feeding Firmino, who only needed a second to pick his spot and curl a shot around Hart and into the bottom corner in front of the Kop for his seventh goal of the season. 

Full of confidence, the Reds looked keen on adding to their lead as Milner's powerful inside-of-the-foot effort forced Hart into tipping over his own crossbar - before the same midfielder wiggled past Zabaleta with great footwork, striking a powerful effort narrowly wide.

The Liverpool team after Firmino made it three. (Picture: Getty Images)
The Liverpool team after Firmino made it three. (Picture: Getty Images)

But still flashes of City's quality showed, with Touré doing very well to recover after Aguero had beaten both him and Lovren, but the veteran Ivorian raced back to muscle the dangerous Argentine off the ball and prevent him from forcing a first save of the evening out of Mignolet.

Liverpool's control was emphasised by the introduction of striker Christian Benteke, who has found himself struggling for game time in recent weeks and didn't get off the bench during the 120 minutes of Sunday's final, with both Milner and Firmino rewarded for their endeavours with rousing standing ovations from the home fans.

But the oncoming Benteke couldn't help his teammates add to their lead, Henderson going closest to a fourth as his 25-yard free-kick curled just a yard or so past the post after beating the wall, before Joe Allen's well-hit dipping volley from distance flew just over as Liverpool secured a comprehensive double on City, winning 7-1 over two games, and beat the Sky Blues at home for the third successive season.