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Tuesday 19 June 2018

Salah sinks City as Pep sees red

Man City 1 Liverpool 2 (Liverpool win 5-1 on agg)

MO MAGIC: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates his equalising goal in last night’s Champions League quarter-final second leg win at Manchester City. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
MO MAGIC: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates his equalising goal in last night’s Champions League quarter-final second leg win at Manchester City. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Liverpool survived a Manchester City onslaught to reach the Champions League semi-finals on a controversial night at the Etihad Stadium that saw Pep Guardiola sent off.

Second-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino killed off any hopes of a City fightback after an early Gabriel Jesus strike, securing a 2-1 victory and a 5-1 aggregate success in a compelling quarter-final.

Premier League leaders City completely dominated the first half as they attempted to salvage the tie after last week's 3-0 loss at Anfield.

Jesus' second-minute effort electrified the crowd before Bernardo Silva hit the woodwork and Leroy Sane had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. That sparked angry protests from City and manager Guardiola was sent to the stand for his reaction after the half-time whistle.

City could not match their first-half intensity after the break and Liverpool professionally closed out a place in the semi-finals of Europe's elite competition for a 10th time.

The atmosphere was slower to build than for the first leg - and the team arrivals were certainly more low-key - but City fans arrived in hope.

And with City's line-up packed with attacking players - although top scorer Sergio Aguero was on the bench - it came as no surprise that they flew out of the blocks.

The intensity appeared to catch Virgil van Dijk by surprise as he was forced into an error by Raheem Sterling. City seized on the Dutchman's loose pass and Fernandinho quickly played in Sterling, whose square ball was neatly tucked away by Jesus.

The tempo was fierce and City did not relent, with wide men Sane and Bernardo Silva seeing plenty of possession. Even the ball boys played their part in ensuring City kept up the momentum.

Kevin De Bruyne fired over the bar and Sane had a shot deflected wide.

The game's first flashpoint came after Sadio Mane slipped and caught Nicolas Otamendi late in a delicate area. Ederson, who was injured in a controversial collision with Mane last September, reacted angrily to the Liverpool man and both players were booked. City threatened again with De Bruyne shooting at Loris Karius and Bernardo Silva curling a shot wide before having another deflected onto the post.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates with his team mates. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates with his team mates. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot over on a rare Liverpool attack before the visitors survived another scare just before the interval as Sane had a goal chalked off.

A weak Karius punch created panic in the area and the ball rebounded to Sane off James Milner. The German tapped the ball into the net but the flag was raised, incorrectly, for offside.

That enraged City and their protests continued after the half-time whistle with Guardiola coming onto the pitch. Consequently the City boss was ordered to watch the remainder of the game elsewhere by Antonio Mateu Lahoz, a referee with whom he has history.

After the break, Georginio Wijnaldum played Mane in on goal and although the Senegal forward slipped as Ederson came out to meet him, Salah was on hand to clip over the keeper for his 39th goal of the season.

That changed the equation and left City needing to score four more. Aguero came off the bench but to no avail.

Liverpool wrapped up the tie 13 minutes from time as Firmino pounced on an Otamendi mistake and slid a calm finish past Ederson.

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