Philippe Coutinho seals massive win for Liverpool over Manchester City
Brazilian nets winner in 3-2 victory over title rivals on anniversary of Hillsborough Disaster; Reds now in the driving seat with four games left
Philippe Coutinho’s 78th-minute winner gave Liverpool a crucial 3-2 victory over Premier League title rivals Manchester City on a day of raw emotion at Anfield on Sunday.
City fought back from 2-0 down to level the scores, but a mistake by captain Vincent Kompany let Coutinho slam home a first-time shot that leaves Liverpool within sight of their first league title since 1990.
An afternoon that began with tributes to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster ended with Liverpool seven points clear of City at the top of the table, albeit having played two more games.
It was a 10th successive win for Brendan Rodgers’ side, who scored first-half goals through Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel, and means that they will be crowned champions if they win their remaining four games.
“It’s emotional but we need to stay calm as we still have four big games to come,” said Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. “But that meant so much, especially when they came back. That is probably the biggest statement we have made so far.
“That was the longest 90 minutes I have probably played in. It felt like the clock was going backwards during parts of that game.”
"We have got four cup games left. People said that was the biggest one was Manchester City but I disagree, the big one now is Norwich. Nothing is ours yet."
City responded impressively in the second half to draw level. David Silva scored and then forced an own goal by Glen Johnson, but their destiny is no longer in their hands.
It was to prove a costly encounter for both teams, however, with City midfielder Yaya Toure and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge limping off, while Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson was shown a straight red card for an injury-time lunge on Samir Nasri.
Before the match, there was an emotional tribute to the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989. “It’s always emotive, especially around this time. We live with Hillsborough every day,” said Rodgers. “The families and the victims are in our thoughts every day.
“It was an inspiration for us, rather than something that held us back. We will remember them again at the memorial service but today it was about creating a different memory and it was a wonderful three points for us.”
Manuel Pellegrini’s City side had at least two good penalty shouts, while Liverpool’s Luis Suarez could have been sent off for diving.
“We deserved a better result. We are very unlucky,” said Pellegrini. “There was a clear penalty when Martin Skrtel had a handball but I don’t think the result today was because of the referee, who had a good game.
“If we win our two games in hand we will be a point behind Liverpool, who still have to play Chelsea. The title does not finish today.
"We are still going to fight. A lot of things will happen between now and the end of the season."