I had to take a day and let my frustration at this one subside before I wrote about it. Looking back on that last statement though, that is a fantastic thing. We are frustrated our team lost to City away and it is all because of their fantastic performance and it feels like we got kicked in the junk. That is an incredible positive few of us would have dreamed prior to this match. With Liverpool "down to 17 men" as Rodgers put it, they came out and put in the best performance any team has put in at The Etihad. They fully deserved at least a point and really can only blame their poor finishing, some decent goalkeeping for a change from Hart and some of the worst refereeing we've seen this season.
City came out guns blazing pushing Liverpool back early on. However, it only took about 10 minutes for the tables to completely shift and it was Liverpool putting on the pressure. This back and forth would continue much of the match. City had some decent chances early and were having a ton of joy down the right flank. Silva was finding acres of space just in front of the Liverpool defense and was exploiting it well. However, Liverpool took advantage and played some fantastic counter-attacking football. Their best chance came early when Suarez played Raheem Sterling in on net. Sterling was at least a yard onside, but some how Mr. Magoo who was substituting as a linesman flagged him offside. The trend of puzzling decisions would continue. Shortly after though, following some excellent one touch pass and move football, Coutinho broke the deadlock. Sterling was played in on net and draged the ball wide around Hart. In doing so he was not in the best position to shoot on net and wisely left it to Coutinho to slot home. It was an incredibly unselfish and intelligent play by Sterling.
However, it wouldn't last long as Lee Mason (or his other assistant, Mr. Magoo Jr.) inexplicably flagged Lucas for a foul on the edge of the box. If it was a handball, his hand wasn't away from his body and he was 2 feet from ball when it was smashed at him. If it was a foul...well I didn't see it. From there City piled on the pressure and a resulting corner following the free kick resulted in Skrtel tugging hard at Kompany's jersey, but not hard enough as he headed the ball perfectly down and in past a flailing Mignolet and Joe Allen.
From there, Liverpool showed heart and responded creating a number of chances they just couldn't finish including one in which Coutinho was 10 yards from goal, but Hart made a good save. In committing the bodies forward they also left themselves vulnerable at the back and paid for it. Shortly before the stoke of halftime City cleared their defensive lines and found Navas who played Negredo through. After some confusion between Sakho and Skrtel on who should take who, Negredo was cear through and shot the ball with the outside of his boot. The shot seemed to take Mignolet by surprise and he could only parry it into his own net.
The second half was more back and forth, but Liverpool created a number of chances and Lee Mason produced more puzzling decisions. Liverpool failed to convert any of these including a cheeky back heel and one Raheem Sterling would live to have back as he found him self wide open 6 yards from goal, but still failed to convert the cross.
In the end, it just wasn't Liverpool's day. However, they showed the heart we need to see going forward and proved they are as good as any team in this league. One would expect the table to start separating soon, but it doesn't appear as if it going to happen any time soon. The disappointment of dropping points after the way they played must be massive, but Rodgers should easily have them up for the match against Chelski. Hopefully they didn't wear themselves out.
-We can't ask for a shirt tugging penalty as long as Skrtel is on the pitch. Even though the one on Suarez was blatantly obvious, that is karma.
-Skrtel was at fault for both goals. Just saying.
-Lee Mason and his crew would have been a disgrace to the Blue Square North with the job they did last night; and that might be where you might find them after that abysmal display of refereeing.
-Liverpool still only have themselves to blame. The chances were there, the finishing was not.
-There was a huge gap between the midfield and the defense when Liverpool went forward which lead to many of City's counters. I would have liked to have seen Lucas be a bit more influential. Fair play to City's midfield though, Toure and Fernandinho were excellent.
-Liverpool forced Joe Hart to make a number of fine stops. It was just unlucky for us that we couldn't have faced Hart earlier in the season.
-While we're on goalkeeping, I find it hard to fault Mignolet on the goal. Could he have done better, yes. Was it asking a lot of him as it was a reaction save of a ball that had a ton of spin and was blasted at him from close, yes. It was just another sign that things weren't going to go Liverpool's way.
-It's matches like this that make me vomit when I think about the Hull match.