Man City 2-3 Liverpool
Kuyt missed an early chance but atoned with his side’s late winner
Dirk Kuyt scored an injury-time winner as Liverpool came back from two goals down to beat 10-man Manchester City.
Stephen Ireland lashed in a shot to put City ahead and Javier Garrido curled a 22-yard free-kick into the top corner to extend the home side’s lead.
But Fernando Torres sidefooted home and, after City’s Pablo Zabaleta was sent off for a tackle on Xabi Alonso, headed in to level for the visitors.
Kuyt dramatically decided the game late on when he slotted in at the far post.
Liverpool showed plenty of character and belief in completing a battling comeback which will only have served to enhance their title credentials.
The game was a match up between a City side who were the highest scorers in the Premier League before the encounter, while the Reds had the top-flight’s meanest defence.
And they produced an action-packed match with plenty of drama.
In the opening skirmishes, Reds left-winger Albert Riera caused plenty of problems for ex-club City.
Riera had a low well-struck shot from an acute angle saved by Joe Hart before he weaved and wriggled his way into space and put in a low cross for Kuyt.
The Dutchman sidefooted over with his left-foot from six yards and City responded by taking the lead.
Wright-Phillips crossed for Jo and, after Alonso nicked the ball away from him before he could shoot, the City winger managed to pull back another cross back for Robinho.
The Brazilian was challenged by Alvaro Arbeloa and the loose ball fell to Ireland to power home the opener.
The goal put a spring in City’s play and they knocked the Reds out of their stride with a mixture of flair and hard work.
City were rewarded with a second when Riera fouled Wright-Phillips and Garrido curled in a left-footed free-kick past the despairing dive of Reina.
Liverpool must have been on the end of some harsh half-time words from manager Rafael Benitez because they came out with an increased desire after the break.
The visitors quickly pulled one back when Torres sidefooted in Arbeloa’s cross, but City would have restored their two-goal advantage if Robinho had not fluffed a glorious chance.
Robinho failed to steer a Wright-Phillips cross into an empty net from three yards before City’s Zabaleta was red-carded for a two-footed lunge on Alonso.
Torres was then guilty of missing an equally gilt-edged chance to Robinho’s when he struck an effort over from point-blank range after Steven Gerrard’s ball across City’s six-yard box.
The Reds suffered a setback when centre-back Martin Skrtel buckled under his standing leg and was stretchered off.
Liverpool – also down to 10-men as they had made their three substitutions – stunned the Manchester City faithful when Kuyt slotted in the winner after a Torres shot had found its way to him.
It was Kuyt’s first goal in the top-flight since last November and maintained Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season as they stayed joint top of the Premier League with Chelsea.
Manchester City boss Mark Hughes:
“We played really well in the first half and deserved our lead,” he said. “The sending off has changed the game and made it even more difficult for us.
“Overall, we have to take the positives out of it. In the first half, it was as good as we have played this season.”
He added: “It’s a harsh lesson and we will have to learn from it.”
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:
“We have some experience after Istanbul (when we beat AC Milan after being 3-0 down) and other games.
“The main thing for me was the belief of the players until the end.
“In the second half we were on top. We changed the mentality and approach. We knew we were giving them too much space so we tried to press them.
“Kuyt is one of our key players. His work-rate is amazing and I think that is why the supporters love him.”
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Dunne, Richards, Garrido, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Kompany, Elano (Petrov 85), Robinho (Evans 80), Jo (Fernandes 70).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Hamann, Ben-Haim, Sturridge.
Sent Off: Zabaleta (67).
Goals: Ireland 19, Garrido 41.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio (Dossena 70), Mascherano (Keane 71), Kuyt, Gerrard, Alonso, Riera (Benayoun 81), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Agger, Babel, Leiva Lucas.
Goals: Torres 55, 73, Kuyt 90.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).
BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Fernando Torres on 8.21 (on 90 minutes).
Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport’s Player Rater after the match has finished.