Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-1 on Sunday in a game where they looked like champions. That’s despite being second-best for much of it.

There’s little doubt that the Reds were second-best to begin with. City were able to keep the ball and attack, winning a series of free-kicks around the box.

And yet, after 13 minutes, Liverpool were 2-0 up. They’d had two shots, neither of which were exactly easy, and scored twice.

Fabinho

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Jurgen Klopp’s side saw out rest of the first-half without too much incident and were into half-time with a strong lead.

It was the perfect half. There’s little Liverpool could have done better than that and they deserved their lead. But this was a very different Liverpool.

The team usually dominate the ball. Well, not here as City had more of it in the first half. Liverpool usually have plenty of shots – again, not the case here. It was all about being clinical.

Mohamed Salah

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images

That was really highlighted in the second half. Liverpool scored early to make it 3-0 and were then on the back foot for much of it.

 

Just one look at the stats tells you that. City had 55% of possession and 18 shots to Liverpool’s 12. They dominated the corner count by 13 to four.

City played this game with more control – at least over the ball – than their hosts.

Liverpool were second best for large parts but the important thing is that they did exactly what was needed to win it. They needed to stifle the game, leave City with half chances and strike when necessary. And they did that.

Sadio Mane, Liverpool

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

They did similar last week against Aston Villa, too, needing to score twice last on. They did it. Go back to last season and the Champions League final and you’ll see it again.

Liverpool scored early and changed the game. Now they needed to stifle things and defend. They did that. The semi-final against Barcelona needed a 4-0 win – they somehow did that.

This side does what’s needed, when it’s needed. That, above anything else, is why Liverpool will surely be champions this season.

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