LIVERPOOL — Manchester City opened up a commanding five-point lead at the top of the Premier League as Ilkay Gundogan scored twice in a 4-1 victory at Liverpool for whom keeper Alisson endured a Sunday afternoon to forget.
An emphatic win, City’s 10th in a row in the league and first at Anfield since 2003, moved Pep Guardiola’s side to 50 points from 22 games, five more than second-placed Manchester United who have played a game more.
Champions Liverpool are now 10 points behind City in fourth spot, also having played a game more, and if further evidence were needed that they have gone off the rails it was the sight of Alisson, a rock for the past two seasons, effectively gifting City the points.
In the space of three second-half minutes he twice passed the ball straight to an opposing player, allowing first Gundogan to grab his second goal, after Mohamed Salah had levelled from the penalty spot, and then Raheem Sterling to make it 3-1.
The excellent Phil Foden capped a superb day for City with his side’s fourth to leave Liverpool crestfallen.
Fourth-placed Liverpool are the first reigning top-flight champions to lose three successive home league games since Chelsea in 1956 and they are a massive 27 points worse off than at the same stage of last season.
For City, who have won 14 straight games in all competitions, they are now overwhelming favourites to claim a third title in four seasons.
“It’s brilliant, every player wants to play in big games like this and we showed that courage from minute one,” Foden said. “We definitely forced the errors, it’s something we’re working at in training.”
A nondescript opening half had few chances with Sadio Mane heading over for Liverpool before Gundogan lifted a penalty over the crossbar after Fabinho had tripped Sterling in the box.
City took the lead four minutes after the break when Sterling went on a trademark jinking run and played in Foden whose shot was well saved by Alisson, but Gundogan was alert to fire the rebound high into the net.
The visitors looked in control but Liverpool were given a reprieve when Salah was clumsily brought down by Ruben Dias before getting up to beat Ederson from the spot.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp bellowed “c’mon” to his troops after they ended their Anfield scoring drought going back to Dec. 27, but instead they imploded.
They got lucky when John Stones had a goal ruled out for offside but Alisson then suffered two inexplicable lapses.
His pass out in the 73rd minute went straight to Foden who then sliced through some non-existent Liverpool tackles before drawing the keeper and squaring for Gundogan to convert.
Incredibly the Brazilian then compounded that error with an even worse one. This time his casual pass went straight to City midfielder Bernardo Silva who then dinked a cross to Sterling to head into an empty net.
There was nothing Alisson could do, however, to stop the 20-year-old Foden’s powerful finish in the 83rd minute after he cut in from the right and let fly.
It was a dispiriting afternoon for Klopp whose side are now in a battle to make sure they do not slip out of the top four.
“The performance was good enough at least to draw, and that’s it,” he said. “We just have to carry on.
“It’s not the best moment of our lives, we have to fight but we have to play as well.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis; Reuters