London: Spectacular long-range strikes by midfielders Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho earned Liverpool a 2-1 victory over Manchester City yesterday that seriously compromised the Premier League champions' title defence.
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring against Manchester City at Anfield yesterday. Pic/AFP
After Henderson's fine 11th-minute opener had been cancelled out by Edin Dzeko at Anfield, Coutinho curled home in sumptuous fashion from 25 yards to enhance Liverpool's hopes of Champions League qualification.
City now lie five points behind leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand due to their involvement in the League Cup final, and manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted that the odds were against his side retaining their title.
"It was a close game, but Liverpool won because they scored two beautiful goals," he said. "It is three points less with one game less. Of course it is difficult to reach the top of the table if you lose three points. But we must keep going and try to return to our normal performance and see where it takes us."
Both teams had gone into the game on the back of European disappointments, but whereas City's display suggested their 1-2 Champions League loss to Barcelona had not been fully digested, Liverpool, who only returned from Istanbul in the early hours of Friday, showed no ill-effects from their penalty shootout defeat at Besiktas in the Europa League.