Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Man City showdown was longest 90 minutes of my Liverpool career, says Gerrard

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on April 13, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on April 13, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on April 13, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 13: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on April 13, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  Crowds greet the arrival of the Liverpool Team coach prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on April 13, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 13: Crowds greet the arrival of the Liverpool Team coach prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on April 13, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Actions spoke louder than words in the aftermath of an extraordinary 10th successive Liverpool victory which might yet prove to be the club's most significant at Anfield in a quarter of a century.

As the old stadium erupted into a state of delirium when the final whistle sounded, captain Steven Gerrard gathered the players into a huddle on the field and, struggling to be heard above the din, told them: "Listen, this is gone. We go to Norwich. Exactly the same. We go together. Come on!"

Minutes later, a tearful Gerrard declared that this had been "the biggest statement we've made so far" as Liverpool stood seven points clear of City having played two games more. With four games to play, the title bid is in their own hands.

"That meant so much, especially when they got back into the game," Gerrard added, after City had pulled back to 2-2 before Philippe Coutinho's technically sublime 78th-minute volley won the game.

"I feared the worst at that point. It was the longest 90 minutes I've ever played. I kept flashing back to how long the clock was taking – longer than all the cup finals and big games I've played in before."

Inevitably, there was a steadfast refusal to suggest that the title was within reach.

"All the men in the TV studio (Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher), I'm sure they'll put whoever they want into the driving seat," Gerrard said. "You know that nothing is ours yet. Nothing is ours yet."

Demba Ba's goal to seal Chelsea a 68th-minute 1-0 win at Swansea certainly keeps the Londoners in the picture, two points behind Liverpool, with their visit to Anfield to follow a week next Sunday. City's own prospects were left damaged by manager Manuel Pellegrini's admission that the groin injury which forced Yaya Toure off after 20 minutes may mean that his season is over.

Pellegrini controversially became the latest manager to suggest publicly that Liverpool's Luis Suarez dives, with City's players demanding he should be given a second yellow card for simulation in the second half.

Further Reading

Nothing is ours yet - Gerrard 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, from the sleepy fishing port of Carnlough, is just four games away from historic league title 

Liverpool 3 Manchester City 2: Brendan Rodgers' Reds take giant step to first league title in 24 years after Philippe Coutinho's late strike secures thrilling victory

But rival Brendan Rodgers countered: "We should have had a penalty. Suarez gets into the box. Vincent Kompany holds him. There is contact. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't."

The broader picture was that another extremely powerful start to the game – Liverpool's modus operandi in a season which has seen them amass 93 Premier League goals in 34 games now and score at least three goals in 11 of the last 13 games – earned them the win.

"We dominated everything in the first half," Rodgers said, after a day which began with tributes to the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough 25 years ago this week. "To play with that energy and intelligence was remarkable. To have had three or four goals in that [first] period would have been worthy.

"We are where we are and still fighting. All I know is the group is very tight and there's a real closeness – you see that. When I came here, we might have gone on and lost that game. But we went again. The level of some of our football today was so good."

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