Anfield has long provoked a sense of dread for City, who last won at the Merseyside ground in May 2003, and they collapsed under an unsustainable weight of individual errors as Liverpool ran amok after half-time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced a midfield performance to thrill the Liverpool faithful in the wake of Philippe Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona and opened the scoring with an excellent ninth-minute opener on an afternoon of high-class finishing.
Leroy Sane thrashed a shot beyond Loris Karius at the near post to draw City level five minutes before half-time and Jurgen Klopp’s choice of goalkeeper might have come in for greater scrutiny had the three attacking stars Coutinho left behind not sparkled at the other end.
Roberto Firmino’s 10th Premier League goal of the season arrived courtesy of a deft finish in the 59th minute and Sadio Mane added a third 126 seconds later, having found time to hit the post in between.
City were a mess as Mohamed Salah completed a dizzying spell of three goals in nine minutes and, although Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan set up a grandstand finish, Liverpool deservedly inflicted a first defeat upon Pep Guardiola’s side in 23 top-flight games this season.
“It is a very important statement, but that’s all,” said Jurgen Klopp after the match.
“It was not that I said in the meeting before the game: ‘It would help a lot if you could win then nobody would talk about Coutinho.’ But it is important we showed it is possible to play without him.”
Maybe it is an historic day,” said Klopp. “Maybe it’s the only game they lose in the whole season because they are so strong. I really think we deserved it.”
Liverpool employed similar tactics to those used by Championship side Bristol City as they lost 2-1 to Manchester City in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final earlier this week.
“The pressing in and around the box in the second half was from a different planet… outstanding,” added Klopp.
“We were playing football against a brilliantly organised side. Everyone says how great City play football, but they are also brilliantly organised.”