It was a tumultuous afternoon at Anfield on Sunday. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was sent off, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola later claimed some fans had thrown coins at him and Liverpool condemned “vile” chanting from sections of fans in the away end.
On the field, Liverpool won its crucial English Premier League tie against City 1-0 thanks to a superb strike from Mohamed Salah.
But the victory has been overshadowed by what happened off the pitch.
“The crowd tried but they didn’t touch me,” Guardiola told BBC Radio 5 live of coins being thrown in his direction during the match. “Maybe next time they will be better.”
And in a statement, Liverpool said the club was “deeply disappointed” to hear away fans chanting about football stadium tragedies.
“We are deeply disappointed to hear vile chants relating to football stadium tragedies from the away section during today’s game at Anfield,” read the statement.
“The concourse in the away section was also vandalised with graffiti of a similar nature.
“We know the impact such behaviour has on the families, survivors and all those associated with such disasters.
“We are working with the relevant authorities and we will also work with Manchester City in order to do our utmost to ensure these chants are eradicated from football altogether.”
Ninety-seven Liverpool fans died attending a 1989 FA Cup semifinal at Hillsborough in what remains the UK’s worst sporting disaster. In 1985, 39 football fans were killed prior to the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels.
Klopp admitted his second-half red card was “my fault” after he berated the assistant referee when Bernardo Silva wasn’t penalized for what he thought was a foul on Salah in the 86th minute.
“I went over the top in the moment,” he told reporters after the match.
“I lost it in that moment and that is not OK, but I think a little bit as an excuse I would like to mention, how can you not whistle that foul? How on earth is it possible? And I wish I could get an explanation.”
But it was Salah – overshadowed so far this season by league newcomer Haaland – who made the headlines with a sensational winner to give his team a much-needed victory, and a first against City since 2019.
Liverpool has suffered a torrid start in the league – winning just twice prior to this fixture in the worst start under Klopp’s tenure – but victory over defending champion City will be a morale boost.
Still 14 points behind Arsenal, the league leader which is four points above City in second, a title challenge seems unlikely for Klopp’s men, but should this win prove to be a turning point there is still time for the team to gain ground on its rivals.
For the goal, Kevin de Bruyne’s free-kick had fallen straight to Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, who rapidly found Salah through the middle. The forward evaded Joao Cancelo, who slipped, and then beat City keeper Ederson when one-on-one.
He had previously failed to beat Ederson when one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but this was a clinical finish and one which could prove to be a crucial moment when Liverpool looks back on this season.
“It’s genius from Mo Salah. Brilliant finish, brilliant play from Salah,” said Chris Sutton, commentating on BBC Radio 5 live.
Moments earlier it looked as if Salah was to be substituted, but after Klopp had had a quick word with his forward the manager changed his mind and Harvey Elliott made way instead.
Up until Salah’s breakthrough the match had remained goalless, but the scoreline belied the quality of the match.
Haaland, as you’d expect from a player who has already scored 15 goals this campaign, had chances, forcing two saves from Alisson, but this was a rare match in which the Norwegian was unable to make a telling impact.
Phil Foden thought he had put City 1-0 but his goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee as Haaland was deemed to have fouled Fabinho in the build up.
City enjoyed plenty of possession, but in Alisson and defender Virgil van Dijk Liverpool found that their totemic pair were in impenetrable form.