If you play EA’s video game approximation of football on a regular basis, that first half would have seemed downright eerie in its arcade quality. Take Mane’s second goal, for example; my fingers twitched reflexively when it fell to him in the corner of the box, setting up that brilliant volley. In real life, of course, it’s much harder to execute that kind of shot than it is in a video game, but Mane pulled it off with aplomb. His first goal and Liverpool’s second was no less Fifa-like in quality, as that kind of press-the-keeper action to net a silly goal is one of the hallmarks of the game. So were a few other passages of play.
The second half was an entirely different story.
Secretly, I was hoping that the Reds would complete a demolition job on City. A couple more goals would have had a significant impact not just on this game, but a likely mental spillover effect on the rest of the season, and perhaps increased our chances of winning the league title. Instead, City clawed two back, which led to one of the most well-known phenomenons for any Liverpool fan – the last few minutes near heart attack. It’s such a well-worn neural pathway in our brains that it’s almost downright comfortable if you’ve been around for a few years. A sort of “ah, we know this” moment, even as the palpitations begin.
Thankfully the Reds were able to see out the game, and this Klopp squad is going to seriously contest for the FA cup for the first time. Somewhat oddly, it looks like it might be against Chelsea.
None of this is to take from the quality of any of the finishes, including Konate’s fantastic header, and both of the Citizens’ goals. In the end, it felt like Alisson Becker, as happens quite often, got us to the finish line with a couple of remarkable catlike stops. The last one, in the 93rd minute off a superb Sterling hit, was particularly excellent, and his presence of mind to stay on the ground and work a few extra seconds off the clock to let everybody take a breath should not go unappreciated. His missing counterpart at the other goal would have likely done a better job for his team, and thus my Liverpool man-of-the-match is Zack Steffen, which is a shame for him and the USMNT considering the upcoming world cup.
One more, two-legged semi-final to go. If the yellow submarine can be sunk, late May will be quite interesting. In the meantime, time to breath and let the blood pressure come down.
Oh, Liverpool, why you do me like that?