The referee disallowed a regular goal, Guardiola was sent off and Liverpool got the job done after that. Salah and Firmino led The Reds to a 2-1 victory in Manchester and booked Liverpool’s spot in the Champions League final four.
Knowing that he needed to chase a 3-goal deficit, Pep Guardiola risked by starting with a 3-defender formation consisted of Otamendi, Laporte and Walker. David and Bernardo Silva were supposed to act like wing backs. Kun Aguero was unable to fully recuperate in time, so he began the match on the bench. Gabriel Jesus was the center forward joined by Sane and Sterling as the attacking wingers. Jurgen Klopp didn’t make any changes to the team that defeated City in the first leg, other than the one he had to. Henderson had to sit this one out due to yellow card accumulation, so Wijnaldum took his spot midfield spot. Luckily for Liverpool, Salah was given the green light and did start despite his questionable designation.
The start was perfect for Manchester City. In the 2nd minute, Van Dijk was pushed on the sideline by Sterling and sent an erratic pass. City was quick to react. Two passes and the ball was at Jesus’ foot, who found the net and the home team had the early lead it was craving for. Liverpool’s players were claiming their center back was fouled, and he probably was, but the referee kept silent. In the 15th minute, we saw the first yellow cards of the match for Sadio Mane and Ederson. The Senegalese international recklessly went for the ball and caught Otamendi with his cleat. Manchester’s goalkeeper wasn’t happy and began aggressively pushing Mane. He didn’t retaliate, probably understanding that it would cost him a trip to the locker room.
The Reds were shackled in their own half, as the game was developing exactly as City wanted. Their midfield was non-existent. In the 41st minute, Bernardo Silva was given too much space and he almost gave City a 2-0 lead. He curled the ball beautifully, but hit the post. A minute later, Karius came out to punch the ball out. His attempt was unsuccessful and the ball eventually ended up with Sane. The German scored, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Replays showed he was in line with the defender. Liverpool threatened for the first time right before the half-time whistle when Oxlade-Chamberlain rounded the keeper, but couldn’t find the net from a very tight angle.
The hosts deserved more from the first period, yet had to settle for a one-goal lead. Both the players and their coach were livid at the referee for disallowing the goal and made sure he knew that after the end of the first 45 minutes was signaled. As a result of the protests, Lahoz sent his compatriot to the stands. Guardiola’s red card meant Manchester City were going to need to catch Liverpool without their leader on the sidelines.
Regardless of how inferior the visitors were, they got that goal that made City’s mission impossible. It happened in the 57th minute. Mane made a mess of three defenders with his speed. He was stopped by Karius, but the deflected ball came to Salah, who flicked it over the keeper and tied the match at 1. Obviously, it was a devastating blow to The Sky Blues’ hopes of progressing. The first substitution of the contest came when Aguero replaced David Silva 20 minutes into the second frame. Otamendi made a huge mistake in the 77th minute by giving the ball away to Roberto Firmino. He headed towards Ederson’s goal and Fernandinho had a choice to make – tackle him or defend Salah. The Brazilian decided to back down and Firmino used that to get closer to the goal. He fired an angled shot that went into the net and secured Liverpool’s spot in the final four. Nothing much happened after that and Liverpool left The Etihad with a win, booking its place in the semi-finals.