Disastrous day for Pellegrini as Liverpool run riot
FA Premier League
Saturday 21 November 2015, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Sagna, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernando, Toure (Delph 46), Navas (Fernandinho 46), Sterling, De Bruyne, Aguero (Iheanacho 66)
Unused: Caballero, Zabaleta, Clichy, Otamendi
Goals: Aguero (44)
Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the match: Hart
City were comprehensively beaten by Jurgen Klopp's rejuvenated Liverpool side on a wintery evening in Manchester. The 4-1 scoreline was a record home defeat for the Blues since moving to the Etihad Stadium, but in no way flattered the visitors. Indeed, but for Joe Hart's heroics their margin of victory could've been even greater. It was disastrous day for Manuel Pellegrini, with questions understandably being asked of his team selection.
Already shorn of injured captain Vincent Kompany, Pellegrini inexplicably opted to pair Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala in central defence, leaving Nicolas Otamendi on the bench. The new pairing rarely looked comfortable in what was a catastrophic first half performance. The decision to omit Fernandinho was equally baffling, given Liverpool's high pressing game, and the static Fernando and Toure were easily outmanoeuvred in midfield.
Pellegrini sought to arrest the slide at half time, introducing Fernbandinho and Fabian Delph for Toure and Jesus Navas, but by then the damage was done. City trailed 3-1, with a fine goal from Sergio Aguero a minute before the break briefly offering a glimmer of hope, but his team appeared shell shocked.
Liverpool were better in all departments, and the home side struggled to match their tempo and intensity. City were uncharacteristically sloppy in possession, and Liverpool counter attacked with menace. The visitors took the lead after just seven minutes when the hapless Mangala diverted a Firmino cross into his own net. The Brazilian was again the provider 23 minutes later, as Philippe Coutinho doubled Liverpool's lead, before Firmino himself added a third just after the half hour mark.
City briefly rallied in the second half, with Delph adding some bite to City's midfield but Liverpool continued to create the better chances. Hart saved well from Firmino and Benteke, before Martin Skrtel secured an impressive win for the visitors with a fierce volley into the roof of the net. City now travel to Turin on Wednesday night with Pellegrini under increasing scrutiny. A win would ensure that the Blues won their Champions League group for the first time, and ease the pressure of the manager.