3 Min Read
* Liverpool beat Manchester City 1-0
* Liverpool took lead with Wijnaldum header in eighth minute
* City pressed forward but failed to find an equaliser
* Liverpool travel to Sunderland next, Man City host Burnley
By Simon Evans
Dec 31 (Reuters) - A thundering header from Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over Premier League title rivals Manchester City on Saturday.
The result moved second-placed Liverpool four points ahead of Pep Guardiola's team and kept them six points behind leaders Chelsea who beat Stoke City 4-2 earlier on Saturday.
"Especially in the beginning we tried (defending) very high, and in these moments we opened our formation a little bit too much, so we struggled a little bit in half-spaces," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp told reporters.
"We were the whole night not cool enough in possession. We had all the problems we got in the second half after we gave the ball too simple away."
The home side dominated the opening half after Wijnaldum leapt above City defender Aleksandar Kolarov to meet a pinpoint Adam Lallana cross and give Liverpool the advantage in the eighth minute.
It was a goal of simplicity but quality and it highlighted the growing confidence of Lallana who was a creative threat down the left flank for much of the game.
Buoyed by the goal, Liverpool were first to the loose balls and looked sharper in their movement and crisper in their passing than a City team which was too often disjointed and lacking a clear purpose.
The return of Argentine Sergio Aguero to the City attack after a four-match suspension should have given the side a greater threat but the striker was starved of service.
Belgian Kevin de Bruyne, who has been the influential figure in City's best moments of late, was quiet and seemed a little uncertain of his role. Raheem Sterling, booed on his return to his former club, got little joy out of Liverpool left back James Milner.
Although Roberto Firmino, Lallana and Emre Can, were active and positive, the Reds were unable to turn their dominance into more than a couple of half-chances with Firmino failing to collect a fine through ball from Milner and Can seeing a long-range effort fly just wide.
City came out stronger after the break but created few real chances and never found the fluency or rhythm that has characterised their better performances under Guardiola this season.
The nearest they came to drawing level was a David Silva attempt from the edge of the area which curled past the post.
The defeat meant City have not won a league game at Anfield since 2003 - their only win at the venue since the creation of the Premier League.
"There's no time to see and it's all aggressive, up and down up and down," City manager Pep Guardiola said.
"I think the game was equal, it was equal.
"We have to wake up and of course in two days we have another game and we will have to focus." (Editing by Ed Osmond)