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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 25 May, 2018


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First thing’s first: why oh why are these games on at the same time? I mean we’ve sat through Stoke and Villa this season. But now, two of the most enticing, potentially exciting and consequential fixtures of the campaign are on at the same time.And all because the FA want to put their foot down – which essentially means going across a domestic league which literally has their name on it as well as harming another of its clubs chances in Europe.

But that’s enough whining. Because there is a lot to be won today. For one,the most important Merseyside derby in years as both Liverpool and Everton look to define their seasons.Two, the title. City can either put huge pressure on United by cutting the gap to two points or effectively cede it… again.

One minute’s silence at Wembley to commemorate Hillsborough, with the 23rd anniversary tomorrow. Needless to say, it is impeccable observed.

The teams in the FA Cup:

Liverpool: Jones, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Henderson, Gerrard, Spearing, Downing, Suarez, Carroll. Subs: Gulacsi, Jose Enrique, Maxi, Kuyt, Shelvey, Kelly, Bellamy.

Everton: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Fellaini, Gueye, Cahill, Jelavic. Subs: Hahnemann, Hibbert, Jagielka, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Coleman, Anichebe.

Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

And we’re off at Wembley.

Sorry about that, a few gremlins in the system. Everton have had much the better of it in the early exchanges at Wembley. Meanwhile, we’ve kicked off at Carrow Road.

GOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Everton

First blood to the Blues. But what were Liverpool at? With Cahill threatening in the box, both Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher hesitated in clearing, appearing to leave it to each other. The Dane notably hesitated a few times before Carragher lashed the ball at Cahill. It landed nicely for Jelavic who simply slotted it home.

On review, that goal seems totally Carragher’s fault. He was five yards behind the rest of the defence, playing Everton onside then didn’t make the call. He’s meant to be in there for experience…

GOAL! Norwich City 0-1 Manchester City

The title race is back on. And look who ignites it. Carlos Tevez smashes a strike from distance past John Ruddy. The keeper might have done better but it did swerve.

Diston booked for a block on Luis Suarez. Liverpool back into it slightly, as they play as if there’s nothing to lose now. And there really isn’t. So bad has been their league form that, really, it offsets the Carling Cup. They almost need this for it to be a positive season.

GOAL! Norwich 0-2 Manchester City

Beautiful interplay from the two Argentines Aguero and Tevez. First there’s a one-two involving a great run and immediate flick back from Tevez, before the number-16  pummels the ball into the top corner. Brilliant.

Belter of a stat from the Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke:

This is the first time City have scored more than one in an away league game since the 3-2 win at QPR on 5 November 2011

Half-time at Wembley, where it’s been much more 50-50 since the goal but it’s ard to see Liverpool actually doing much.

Grant Holt goes close for Norwich as they start to come back into the game a bit. it is amazing the effect a swing of results or simply bottoming out can have though. City look a markedly different team to six days ago.

John Barnes and Martin Keown going at it at half-time at Wembley on SPN. Keown giving the Liverpool players a pass because they’re normally used to playing two at the back.Barnes arguing it’s just about simple responsibility.

Half-time at Carrow Road, City well in control… second half starts at Wembley. No changes either side. Liverpool need to alter their attitude though.

What a miss from Andy Carroll! Stewart Downing swings across a brilliant cross, Carroll swings his head at it. It’s a lovely height, a lovely position, a lovely pace… and somehow he puts it well wide. Very poor.

Jon Champion mentions Ronnie Rosenthal mind. It’s not that bad.

Gueye fires in a corner but Jones comes out to thump clear under pressure from Distion. The keeper has generally been OK but betrayed a few nerves every now and then.

City’s two goals really were fantastic. Lovely the way Aguero’s skipped up before he smashed it home.

Bit of afters between Jelavic and Skrtel as the striker reacts very badly to the Slovakian’s lean on him. Booking apiece.

The ball is flashed across the Everton box for Suarez but he can’t get enough of a touch and Everton clear. It was Downing that created the chance. He’s had a good second half.

GOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Everton

Oh dear! The first goal may have been a calamity but that was worse. Liverpool back into out of nothing… or, rather, something calamitous. With Suarez on his back, Distin turns and tries to play the ball back to Howard. It’s woefully short, though, allowing Suarez to race and knock the ball home with the outside of his foot.

Liverpool with the wind in their sails now. Suarez forces another break before Downing blazes a deflected shot. They have a corner…

GOAL! Norwich City 0-2 Manchester City

Game on at Carrow Road. Hart meekly punches a cross clear, allowing Andrew Surman to volley it past them. That said, while Hart made it easier for him, the finish was still difficult.

Norwich now bossing the game at Carrow Road, with Zabeleta forced to make a desperate tackle to prevent an equaliser as City have completely lost the initiative. Now they look like the team from last week.

Great save from Ruddy to keep out Zabaleta. Should have been 3-1.

Aguero ran through on goal, opening up the target and seemed to have a clear shot at goal… only to hit Tevez. Norwich swarm back on the break. This is end to end.

Norwich try to catch Hart out with a quick free-kick but it’s just wide. City had turned their back on it as they readied themselves. Dangerous. Half an hour left there. There’s another goal in this. Who the next one goes to is key. Yaya Toure comes on for Nasri.

Ball falls for Carroll at the edge of the box, he cuts inside well and sets himself up for a shot on goal… but it’s wide. As Sven Goran-Eriksson might say, first half good second half not so good.

The Indy’s Pitt-Brooke on form today. Another fine tweet:

“You’re English, that’s why you’re a sub”, Norwich fans sing to Milner, Micah and AJ, who laugh it off. (All Norwich XI born in England)

Action at both games. Jelavic hits the side netting to end a period of Liverpool pressure; Wilbraham has a good shot well blocked in the City box.

Five minutes of normal time left at Wembley, where sub Seamus Coleman is lucky not to be sent off for a second booking after an abrasive challenge on Rodriguez.

GOAL! Liverpool 2-1 Everton

A redemption song for both Carroll and Liverpool! With just four minutes left, the striker – with his back to goal – somehow heads in a free-kick. Brilliant. And, on the second half at least, deserved.

GOAL! Norwich 1-3 Manchester City

And that should be it. Like Carroll, Tevez does well to loop in a header…

GOAL! Norwich City 1-4 Manchester City

And an anxious match now to turns into an easy win as Sergio Aguero scores another beauty with a great run and finish to leave Ruddy with no chance.

Two minutes of the four allotted for stoppage time now played at Wembley. But it’s Liverpool who have a corner. As Everton fans cry in the crowd, it really doesn’t look like they’re going to do it.

GOAL! Norwich City 1-5 Manchester City

Very unfair on Norwich but City ruthlessly punish a mishap as Bennett plays a poor backpass. Tevez races onto it, rounds Ruddy and claims a fine hat-trick. Perhaps in reference to his ample time off, he celebrates by swinging an imaginary golf club.

Full-time: Liverpool 2-1 Everton

The ultimate redemption for Kenny Dalglish’s team and, to be fair, it was fully deserved on the second-half performance. Hard not to feel for Everton though.

Andy Carroll looks – naturally – delighted, a smile plastered across his face as he talks to ESPN. Poor old Distin is bereft.

A wasted opportunity for Moyes. The question has to be asked now: while he is clearly a very good manager who has done an exceptional job under trying circumstances at Everton, should he have won a trophy by now if he is being feted as a future Old Trafford manager?

Adam Johnson hits the bar for City, who are at walking pace now.

Aguero now hits the post! It’s a shooting gallery at Carrow Road.

GOAL! Norwich 1-6 Manchester City

And now City hit six! For the second time in an away game of course. Aguero swings a ball across goal, it’s beautifully cushioned and Johnson just slots it home. Very harsh on Norwich. Emphatic from City.

Full-time: Norwich City 1-2 Manchester City

Roberto Mancini’s side move to within two points of United, although the champions can extend that back to five with a win at home to Aston Villa tomorrow. At the least, it’s not going to be easy for them.