Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain felt Manchester City’s tactics played into Liverpool’s hands as the Reds handed Pep Guardiola’s side their first Premier League loss of the season with a thrilling 4-3 win at Anfield.
Oxlade-Chamberlain set the hosts on their way early on as the Reds’ forwards won the battle of the Premier League’s great entertainers.
“We know they like to play out from the back and they are really good at it, but at the same time we thrive when teams try and do that, it can play into our hands,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said. “Second half when we went on a bit of a rampage for five or ten minutes that showed.”
The loss was runaway leaders City’s first in 23 league games this term.
“It’s a nice statement to make,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain, pictured. “They’ve been brilliant all year.
“We knew we had what it took if we were 100 per cent at the races to get three points today.”
Team-mate Sadio Mane admitted the nerves were jangling at the end, though, as City fought back to within one goal.
“It was not easy for us – 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, you are a bit scared, but we worked as a team and I think we deserved to win today,” he said.
Guardiola was gracious in defeat, but admitted his side had to show greater defensive resilience after falling 2-1 down. “Congratulations Liverpool for the victory,” he said.
“In the second half we started much better (than in the first), the game was in our hands, we had one or two chances on the counter-attack and the finishing was not good.
“And after 10,15 minutes the 1-1 to 4-1 – in football you can concede one goal, but you have to be stable and in that moment we were not solid enough.
“After the second goal they scored the third and fourth and after that it’s always a complicated recovery.”
The ending of City’s 30-match unbeaten run, stretching back to April, handed Manchester United the chance to cut City’s lead to 12 against Stoke tonight.
Although the result extended their own unbeaten run to 18 matches, their longest sequence since 2008, it papered over the cracks in the Liverpool backline, where questions are still being asked about their goalkeepers.
Jurgen Klopp picked Loris Karius ahead of established number one Simon Mignolet and suggested the place was now the German’s to lose.
With £75million record signing Virgil van Dijk already missing with a tight hamstring it was a huge call and one, arguably, the Reds boss got wrong with Karius at fault for the equaliser.
Instead of providing a solution it merely reopened the debate about whether either goalkeeper is good enough for a side with future title ambitions.
There cannot be any such argument about Klopp’s attacking resources, particularly as this was their first outing since the £142million sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low ninth-minute 20-yard strike was the deserved reward for Liverpool being one of the few sides to take the game to City.
City, who had to replace injured left-back Fabian Delph on the half-hour, had speculative shots from Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne but Liverpool had better with Roberto Firmino’s near-post header going just wide.
However, five minutes before the break Joe Gomez misjudged Kyle Walker’s crossfield ball and Sane skipped past him and Joel Matip and beat Karius too easily at his near post.
Six minutes into the second half Nicolas Otamendi’s header against the bar was the signal for Liverpool to raise their game. The momentum changed in three pivotal minutes which exposed the league leaders like never before this season as both City centre-backs were found wanting.
John Stones was out-muscled by Firmino for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s through ball and the Brazilian dinked an effort in off the far post before Mane hit the outside of the same upright with a curling right-footer.
But Senegal international Mane was not to be denied when Mohamed Salah nipped in front of Otamendi and teed up his team-mate to lash the ball into the top corner with his weaker left foot.
Still Liverpool poured forward and when Ederson miscued a clearance to Salah the Egypt international lobbed it back over the goalkeeper’s head for his 24th strike of the season.
Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan enhanced City’s reputation for late goals but it was not enough.