Raheem Sterling watch: Ex-Liverpool man overshadowed by replacement on first Reds reunion

first_img Raheem Sterling and Roberto Firmino 1 Much of the pre-match build up to Liverpool’s trip to Manchester City surrounded one player.The mouthwatering encounter at the Etihad saw Raheem Sterling’s first reunion with his old employers after his highly acrimonious Anfield exit in the summer.And the £49m man was left astonished as Jurgen Klopp’s Reds ran riot, claiming a fully-deserved 4-1 victory which, in all honesty, could have been clinched with an even wider margin.The Reds opened up a three-goal lead through Eliaquim Mangala’s own goal, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino before Sergio Aguero pulled a goal back.But Martin Skrtel’s emphatic late strike gave the scoreline a more accurate representation for Klopp’s rampant Reds as hordes of City fans made for an early exit.But how did Sterling fare individually in defeat? And how did his replacement on Merseyside, Firmino, do?FINISHINGSterling’s main critique is undoubtedly his ability to put the ball in the back of the net. He may have plundered his first career hat-trick against Bournemouth last month but his finishing left a lot to be desired again on Saturday.After James Milner’s inexplicable back pass found the England youngster’s feat, his confidence appeared to desert him. Instead of keeping a cool head and finishing past Mignolet or taking it around the Reds goalkeeper, he opted to find Aguero who saw his effort well saved. It summed up Sterling’s performance, particularly when his former team-mates were so proficient at the other end.RECEPTIONSterling was made persona non grata at the back end of last season as his messy transfer wrangle ran on and on, culminating in a barracking from Liverpool fans on the final day as they suffered a heavy defeat at Stoke.The same set of supporters met his first touch at the Etihad on Saturday with a chorus of boos, which was in turn met with laughter around the stadium. Sterling’s departure, despite the sizeable fee, was seen as a hammer blow to Liverpool’s top four chances this season, but do they now look better equipped without him?And for Firmino…RELATIONSHIP WITH COUTINHOAt times, it was like watching Brazil. The samba duo tore the incompetent City central defensive pairing of Mangala and Martin Demichelis to shreds in the first half, with Firmino at the heart of everything the Reds mustered.He claimed assists for the first two visitors’ goals, including an excellent through ball for Coutinho’s strike, before turning home his compatriot’s clever pass to finish a sublime team move.At £29m, Reds fans would have expected more from their marquee summer signing so far this campaign but he went some way to repaying that fee with a stellar display.BEING FUSSY HERE – SHOULD HE HAVE SCORED MORE?While Firmino may have opened his Reds account and his pressing was outstanding, the Brazilian may feel slightly aggrieved he didn’t grab a hat-trick. After making it 3-0, Firmino was then frustrated time and time again by Joe Hart.The England stopper denied the attacker either side of half time with brilliant smothering saves, while Firmino also skewed just wide after brilliant play from Coutinho again.last_img

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