Riyad Mahrez fired his penalty high into the Merseyside sky, and hid his face behind his hands. Anfield erupted.
Liverpool held on for a 0-0 draw and confirmed the continuation of Manchester City’s sorry record on the red half of Merseyside.
It has been over 16 years since they have tasted victory there. That’s 18 games, if you include a League Cup semi-final in 2012 and the Champions League quarter-final last year.
Nicolas Anelka celebrates after netting from the spot in Manchester City’s last win at Anfield
Milan Baros had given Liverpool the lead in the game at Anfield back in May 2003
Sylvain Distin and David Sommeil celebrate City’s victory over their rivals 16 years ago
It is the closest they have come to breaking their Mersey misery since Nicolas Anelka thumped home a left-footed bounding volley to silence the Kop in May 2003.
CITY AT ANFIELD SINCE 2003
February 11, 2004: Liverpool 2-1 Man City
August 21, 2004: Liverpool 2-1 Man City
February 26, 2006: Liverpool 1-0 Man City
November 25, 2006: Liverpool 1-0 Man City
May 4, 2008: Liverpool 1-0 Man City
February 22, 2009: Liverpool 1-1 Man City
November 21, 2009: Liverpool 2-2 Man City
April 11, 2011: Liverpool 3-0 Man City
November 27, 2011: Liverpool 1-1 Man City
January 25, 2012: Liverpool 2-2 Man City (League Cup)
August 26, 2012: Liverpool 2-2 Man City
April 13, 2014: Liverpool 3-2 Man City
March 1, 2015: Liverpool 2-1 Man City
March 2, 2016: Liverpool 3-0 Man City
December 31, 2016: Liverpool 1-0 Man City
January 14, 2018: Liverpool 4-3 Man City
April 4, 2018: Liverpool 3-0 Man City (Champions League)
October 7, 2018: Liverpool 0-0 Man City
Back then City were a very different animal, back in the Premier League after promotion under Kevin Keegan. They have been there ever since.
Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool were chasing Champions League qualification, and had it in their own hands with just two games to go.
Milan Baros gave them the lead on the stroke of the hour before Anelka equalised from the spot 15 minutes later and then sensationally snatched it at the end.
Anelka’s late intervention, after being passed over by Houllier in favour of El-Hadji Diouf the previous summer, swung the momentum in Chelsea’s favour.
They won the infamous fourth-place play-off at Stamford Bridge a week later. It was the beginning of the end for the Frenchman at Anfield, and he was sacked 12 months later.
It was also the beginning of the end for City’s Anfield joy. It has been misery, near-misses and thrashings ever since.
Up until the Abu Dhabi investment in 2008, City were always the underdogs in this clash. But they gave as good as they got, only losing by one-goal margins five years on the spin.
For the last 11 years City have not necessarily been favourites, but have at least arrived at Anfield with a target on their back. From the Premier League’s nouveaux riches, to top-four rivals, to champions and now, finally, title rivals.
Craig Bellamy ended the rot in February 2009 but Dirk Kuyt earned the Reds a draw with an equaliser 12 minutes from time. In November it was the turn of Yossi Benayoun to score a 77th minute leveller in a 2-2 draw.
|PL – Away (Overall)||Venue||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||PPG|
|Tottenham Hotspur||White Hart Lane||20||4||3||13||23||32||-9||15||0.75|
|Coventry City||Highfield Road||5||1||1||3||5||10||-5||4||0.80|
|Leeds United||Elland Road||7||2||0||5||6||12||-6||6||0.86|
|West Ham United||Boleyn Ground||15||4||4||7||17||23||-6||16||1.07|
Riyad Mahrez missed from the spot in last season’s goalless stalemate on Merseyside
Mohamed Salaha and Andy Robertson celebrate during Liverpool’s 4-3 win in January 2018
Liverpool’s players celebrate a 3-0 victory over Manchester City at Anfield in March 2016
Philippe Coutinho’s goal edged a pulsating 3-2 classic between the two sides in April 2014
The next season Andy Carroll scored his first Liverpool goals as City were trounced 3-0 in April 2011. In November that year a Joleon Lescott cancelled out a Vincent Kompany header as Mario Balotelli saw red for the visitors.
City were back two months later for the second-leg of a Carling Cup semi-final. Craig Bellamy’s 74th goal earned a 2-2 draw in an Anfield thriller, with Liverpool progressing to the final after winning at the Etihad a fortnight earlier.
Roberto Mancini’s champions were held in August the next season, where Martin Skrtel’s calamitous late error allowed Carlos Tevez to score.
|PL – Away since 2003-04||Opponent||Venue||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||PPG|
|Everton||Manchester United||Old Trafford||16||1||4||11||12||30||-18||7||0.44|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Chelsea||Stamford Bridge||16||1||5||10||13||31||-18||8||0.50|
|Manchester United||Chelsea||Stamford Bridge||16||1||5||10||13||28||-15||8||0.50|
|Arsenal||Manchester United||Old Trafford||17||1||6||10||14||30||-16||9||0.53|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Manchester United||Old Trafford||16||3||2||11||12||28||-16||11||0.69|
|Liverpool||Manchester United||Old Trafford||17||3||3||11||18||28||-10||12||0.71|
Vincent Kompany looks on after City thought they had handed the league title to Liverpool
James Milner lets out a groan as Roberto Mancini’s champions were held to a 2-2 draw in 2012
Andy Carroll celebrates netting his first ever goal for Liverpool during a 3-0 win in April 2011
They next met as title rivals in April 2014, with emotions running high at Anfield the hosts raced into a two-goal lead through Raheem Sterling and Skrtel. City hit back after half-time before Philippe Coutinho fired home a winner, setting up a finale made famous by Steven Gerrard’s ‘This does not slip’ speech. The rest is history.
It was the first of six successive wins for Liverpool over City at Anfield. Coutinho struck another winner in March 2015, a year later Jurgen Klopp’s men avenged their League Cup final defeat with a comfortable 3-0 win.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s header decided a pulsating New Year’s Eve clash in 2016.
In January 2018 Liverpool blitzed Pep Guardiola’s champions elect in an extraordinary second-half which yielded three goals in nine minutes. It lost them their Invinicble tag and scarred them for their next visit in a Champions League quarter-final first leg.
|PL away at Anfield since 2003-04 (per game)|
|Team||Games||Conceded||Shots Faced||Avg Possession|
Fernando Torres slots home to give Liverpool victory in their final home game in 2007-08
Steven Gerrard lets fly from range and finds the back of the net in a 1-0 win in November 2006
Harry Kewell’s goal past David James was the difference between the clubs in February 2006
On that April night it was a first-half blitz which did for Guardiola’s men in a 3-0 defeat. Liverpool won again at the Etihad a week later and made the final in Kiev that year.
Last year City were ready and a rather humdrum stalemate followed. It was a good result, they beat Liverpool at home in January and won the league by a single point.
But when Mahrez blazed that 85th minute penalty high over the bar it laid bare the Anfield hoodoo. Their record at Anfield is their second worst at any ground in Premier League history, with just one win in 22 attempts. Only their record at Highbury was worse, with no wins in nine games.
Since the win in 2003, their record at Anfield is worse than any other ever-present Premier League side at any other ground. It has been five draws and 11 defeats from 16.
Victory this weekend would both end a hoodoo and ignite a title race. There would be no better time to do it.
Steven Gerrard and Nicolas Anelka embrace after Liverpool’s 2-1 win over City in August 2004