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Manchester City maintained their 100 per cent home record in the Barclays Premier League as they beat fellow title-hopefuls Liverpool 2-1.
Philippe Coutinho's second goal of the season put Brendan Rodgers' side in front after 24 minutes in the battle of the Barclays Premier League's two highest scoring sides at the Etihad Stadium. Vincent Kompany equalised just seven minutes later and Alvaro Negredo's 14th goal of the season put Man City in front on the stroke of half-time.
The second half did not match the scintillating first 45 minutes, but Liverpool had their chances to salvage at least a point and Raheem Sterling missed a big opportunity. Man City are just a point behind leaders Arsenal in second place and have won six of their last seven top-flight matches, while Liverpool sit three points behind the Gunners in fourth.
Martin Demichelis (knock) was ruled out, so Joleon Lescott came into the heart of the City defence. Pablo Zabaleta returned from a hamstring injury and Jesus Navas started as Gael Clichy and Edin Dzeko dropped to the bench. Liverpool were without full-back Jon Flanagan (hamstring), so Aly Cissokho replaced him.
The hosts wasted no time in showing their intent and were almost in front after four minutes as Aleksandar Kolarov whipped in a cross and Navas stooped at the back post to head back across goal, but was denied by the outside of a post. Liverpool soon got into their stride and were in front after 23 minutes when Sterling got on the end of Luis Suarez's exquisite flick then rounded Joe Hart before Coutinho nipped in front of the winger to slot into the empty net from a tight angle.
City were a constant threat and it took them seven minutes to get back on level terms as Kompany rose to head down David Silva's corner and Joe Allen was unable to clear off the line. Both sides were causing all sorts of problems going forward and Hart denied Coutinho a second goal after great link-up play by Sterling and Suarez, before Martin Skrtel produced a vital last-ditch block to thwart Alvaro Negredo.
Negredo was not to be denied in first-half stoppage, though, as Mignolet could only palm the striker's left-foot strike behind him and into the net after Navas had picked out his Spain team-mate.
Liverpool started the second half on the front foot and Suarez’s close-range shot hit Jordan Henderson after the Uruguayan had dispossessed Kolarov. Negredo rose to meet a Silva corner but headed straight at Mignolet. Liverpool continued to ask questions of the hosts’ defence and Glen Johnson's touch let him down after Lescott's attempted clearance fell nicely for him.
Henderson forced a save out of Hart with a cheeky backheel and then Sterling spurned an opportunity after 72 minutes when he fired over the bar from close range.
Suarez blasted a free-kick over the crossbar from long range, but there was no way back for Liverpool.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said: "It was very important because Liverpool were the best team in the Premier League. They were top of the table before the match so if they won they would be four points in front of us.
"It was very important, especially when we were losing 1-0, the personality of the team to go for the game.
"I'm very happy with our response, because it's not easy when you play such a difficult team who can play on the counter-attack when you are losing 1-0. It's very easy for them to have space, but we defended very well.
"It's just half of (the) Premier League (season completed); we have the second half that will be very close with five or six teams going for the title."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: "I was very proud of the players, I thought they were absolutely outstanding.
"I'm proud of the team, how we played the charisma in our football and our passing. We scored a wonderful goal and we felt we could have had two or three more, To lose we're bitterly disappointed but it was an outstanding performance.”
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|18 Jan 2014||v Cardiff (H)|
|29 Jan 2014||v Spurs (A)|
|03 Feb 2014||v Chelsea (H)|