Liverpool put themselves back on the winning track on Saturday with a thrilling 4-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The victory lifted Liverpool into the top half of the standings and washed away any lingering memories of the loss to Crystal Palace before the international break.
Manchester City started the day on the top of the Premier League standings but slipped to third, behind Leicester City and Manchester United.
Liverpool won emphatically and comprehensively thanks to the first-half magic act of Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
Ronaldinho predicted big things from the Coutinho-Firmino axis in June, and they delivered. Liverpool’s party in Manchester started in the seventh minute when Eliaquim Mangala bundled Firmino’s attempted cross into his own goal.
Coutinho started the sequence by winning possession on the wing and finding Firmino inside Manchester City’s defense with a deft pass.
Firmino returned Coutinho’s favour in the 23rd minute by slipping a no-look pass to his compatriot, who scored just as Manchester City were coming to life.
Firmino then completed a wonderful team move and Liverpool’s first-half treble in the 33rd minute by scoring his first goal for the Reds.
Fit-again Sergio Aguero clawed one back for Manchester City in the 44th minute. The game’s quality and tempo dipped in the second half, but the scoring wasn’t complete.
Manchester City gained control of possession and territory, but Liverpool remained dangerous on the counter-attack.
Joe Hart prevented the Reds from extending their lead with a trio of saves in one-on-one situations. Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel completed the rout with an unstoppable volley from the edge of the penalty area.
Skrtel’s shot was as powerful as Liverpool’s statement.
Why the outcome?
A focused and committed Liverpool executed Jurgen Klopp’s game-plan almost flawlessly, while a short-handed Manchester City creaked, crumbled and never recovered.
Liverpool created a host of chances by pressing Manchester City high up the field and creating turnovers in dangerous areas. Firmino and Coutinho demonstrated their individual quality and mutual understanding during the first-half blitz.
Manuel Pellegrini removed Yaya Toure at half-time in an apparent attempt to correct the mistake of leaving Fernandinho, who had just returned from international duty, out of the starting 11.
Fernandinho might have provided enough protection for Manchester City’s defence, which suffered without the injured Vincent Kompany, but Pellegrini inserted him into the fray too late.
Manchester City had shut out just two of their last 13 opponents in all competitions, and the Reds exploited their defensive frailties.
Klopp deserves credit for his team’s organisation, energy and mental strength, and the players warrant kudos for expressing themselves in such a way.
Firmino’s goal, one of Liverpool’s best of the season, put the game out of reach with just under an hour to play.
Manchester City had no way back, having conceded three goals against a rampant opponent.