LIVERPOOL, England: Liverpool became the favorite to win the Premier League after beating title rival Manchester City 3-2 on Sunday, with Philippe Coutinho's late goal settling a thrilling and emotionally charged match at Anfield.
The Brazilian playmaker pounced on City captain Vincent Kompany's poor clearance to curl home a 78th-minute winner, leaving Liverpool seven points clear of third-placed City and needing to win its last four games to guarantee a first championship since 1990.
Driven on by its passionate and frenzied support, Liverpool dominated City early on and went 2-0 ahead, thanks to goals by Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel in the opening 26 minutes.
City produced a stirring second-half fightback, with David Silva scoring in the 57th before Glen Johnson's own goal five minutes later looked like giving the visitors a point.
Jordan Henderson was red-carded in injury time for Liverpool but that, and a second-half injury to Daniel Sturridge, failed to take the gloss off a 10th straight win for Brendan Rodgers' side. The title race is far from over, though, with City having two games in hand and second-placed Chelsea having the title in its own hands if it can beat Liverpool at Anfield on April 27 and win its other four games.
All the momentum is with Liverpool, however, and it would mean so much to the club and its fans if it can win the league this season, given that Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed in a stadium crush.
Thousands of Liverpool fans lined the streets outside Anfield hours before kickoff to cheer the players into the ground, and the sea of flags, scarves and banners in the iconic Kop stand harked back to the days in the late 1970s and `80s when the club dominated English and European football.
A string of tributes to mark the upcoming Hillsborough anniversary added to the gravitas of the contest and City's players simply failed to deal with it in the first half.
By the 26th minute, they had fallen 2-0 behind, lost midfield driving force Yaya Toure to an apparent groin injury and their defense was being undone by the movement of Luis Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and the excellent Coutinho. The Liverpool crowd also played its part.
Rodgers said the club would "unleash" its supporters on City and there was lift off inside the stadium when Sterling opened the scoring.
Suarez played a pass in behind Kompany, whose fitness was in doubt after twisting his knee in training on Saturday, and Sterling raced through before coming to a stop, befuddling Kompany and goalkeeper Joe Hart with some nifty footwork and then stroking home into an empty net.
City looked rattled already and its predicament worsened in the 19th when Toure hobbled off. Then, after an unmarked Steven Gerrard had a header brilliantly saved by Hart, the midfielder whipped in the resulting corner for Skrtel to peel off Kompany and glance a header into the far corner. Cue furious scarf-waving across Anfield.
"Poetry in Motion" was the chant from the Kop and although City settled by the end of the first half, with Fernandinho having a low shot saved by Simon Mignolet, Liverpool still looked more potent especially on the counter-attack.
Liverpool's work rate was something to behold -- two crunching tackles by Coutinho told its own story -- but City raised the tempo at the start of the second half, with the introduction of James Milner for Jesus Navas sparking an improvement.
And it was Milner, after exchanging passes with Fernandinho, who crossed for Silva to poke home in the 57th.
It was all City and the equalizer came five minutes later, a series of intricate passes setting free Silva, whose center was deflected unwittingly into the net off Johnson.
Sergio Aguero came on for Edin Dzeko after 68 minutes for his first action in a month after a hamstring injury and his cross should have enabled Silva to slide in a third, but he couldn't get a meaningful touch.
It was left for Coutinho to grab the winning goal after Kompany miscued his clearance. Henderson's dismissal, for a studs-first challenge on Samir Nasri, came too late to make a difference.