Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish all made the net ripple in a second-half demolition job, as Jurgen Klopp cut an apathetic figure on the touchline while witnessing a truly worrying defensive display.
Most fans could have foreseen Man City enjoying the lion’s share of possession while Liverpool dug deep and tried to hit on the break, and the first half followed the script to a tee in that sense.
With challenges flying in left, right and centre, Riyad Mahrez sent a 15th-minute free kick a whisker wide of the post, and the Algerian would end up ruing that miss just two minutes later.
A massive gap in between City’s two centre-backs was exposed by Diogo Jota, who kept himself onside to receive Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ball over the top before holding off Manuel Akanji, and Salah pounced on the loose ball to fire home into the corner.
There was no shortage of chances from the champions as they desperately tried to claw their way back into the game, and Grealish proved to be the hero at both ends of the pitch to deny Liverpool a second before wiping out their lead.
Only moments after thwarting a Reds counter-attack with a crucial interception to deny Salah setting up Jota for a second, Grealish squared for Alvarez to finish off a scintillating passing move with a tap-in from a couple of yards out in the 27th minute.
The quality of play on the ball from both sides was a sight for sore eyes, but as tempers flared, controversy soon took centre stage, as Rodri survived a second yellow card in the 35th minute when bringing down Cody Gakpo on the break.
Referee Simon Hooper was immediately set upon by a sea of red shirts – whose protests were led by infuriated captain Jordan Henderson – but Rodri escaped further punishment to the chagrin of the away fans.
Alexander-Arnold also had a few nibbles at compatriot Grealish before the half-time whistle – which was met by boos from City fans towards Hooper – but it took just 52 seconds of the second half before smiles appeared on the home supporters’ faces again.
Caught cold defensively straight away, Liverpool were undone by a long ball out wide to Mahrez, and in a carbon copy of their equaliser, the Algerian’s ball across beat a sprawling Alisson Becker and found De Bruyne for a tap-in.
Having learned no lessons from their abysmal play in their own box, Liverpool’s mountain to climb became even steeper in the 53rd minute, as Alexander-Arnold blocked Alvarez’s effort, but the rebound fell for Gundogan to lash home from close range.
Desperate times called for desperate measures for Klopp, who made four changes to try to quell the relentless flow of City attacks, but the hosts would inflict more misery on the abject German in the 74th minute.
Creators-in-chief De Bruyne and Grealish linked up well down the left, and the former cut back for his English colleague to race away from Alexander-Arnold and coolly find the bottom corner.
The away end soon emptied out as City remained untroubled en route to victory – one which takes them to within five points of Arsenal before the Gunners meet Leeds United – and they now prepare for next Saturday’s trip to Southampton.
Meanwhile, Liverpool – who have now suffered three successive defeats – remain sixth, level on points with Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion, and they have just over 72 hours to recover before a trip to Chelsea on Tuesday.
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