Brilliant Coutinho hands Liverpool victory over City

LONDON (Reuters) – Two superb curling efforts from Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho handed Liverpool a 2-1 home win against Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday to deliver a thumping blow to Manuel Pellegrini’s title aspirations.

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Liverpool v Manchester City – Barclays Premier League – Anfield – 1/3/15Liverpool”s Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring the second goal for his side Reuters / Phil NobleLivepi

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Henderson, who passed a late fitness test to feature in the match, bent in an excellent effort from 20 metres into the top corner to give the hosts the lead after 11 minutes.

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City, who have not won at Anfield for 12 years, equalised through Edin Dzeko 14 minutes later but a moment of brilliance from Brazilian Coutinho with 15 minutes to play was enough to secure the win for Liverpool and extended their unbeaten run in the league to 11 games.

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It was a further dent to City boss Pellegrini and his second-placed team’s hopes of retaining their title.

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Having gained two points on leaders Chelsea last week when they had faltered, this was a missed opportunity to narrow the five-point gap even further, with Jose Mourinho’s men playing Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup final later on Sunday.

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Victory for Liverpool meant they leapfrogged Southampton into fifth, with fourth-placed Arsenal hosting Everton later in the day.

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had expressed concerns over the fitness of his team ahead of the match after they had just two days to recover from penalty shootout loss at Besiktas in a Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday. But they showed no ill-effects from that match during a bright start and looked to have taken a ninth-minute lead when Adam Lallana smashed the ball in from a tight angle but the goal was ruled out, with the midfielder adjudged offside.

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There was no doubt two minutes later, though, when Henderson put them ahead. City nearly had an instant reply when top goalscorer Sergio Aguero was played through on goal but the Argentine could only hit the post with a sidefooted shot.

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The visitors did equalise when Dzeko slotted the ball past Simon Mignolet after Aguero and David Silva had combined well to create the chance. Lallana saw another goal chalked off nine minutes after the interval when he was again flagged for offside after he tapped in Martin Skrtel’s headed knockdown from close range.

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As both teams appeared to be tiring after an open and attacking match, Coutinho found the breakthrough with a brilliant goal, curling the ball beyond a despairing dive from Joe Hart.

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