Five minutes to go, game tied at 0-0, penalty to Manchester City at Anfield, Sergio Aguero off the field. Up steps Riyad Mahrez. This, one imagines, is what the record signing was bought to do. Define games. Win matches. Those huge moments on which title campaigns turn.
That is why City pursued him. That is why Foden was pushed down the pecking order. He’s a kid and everyone knows what City want. Big men, for big occasions. Experience. The finished article. That is the scale of their ambition.
LIVERPOOL: (4-3-3) Alisson 7; Gomez 7, Lovren 8.5, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 7; Henderson 7, Wijnaldum 6.5, Milner 6 (Keita 29 6); Mane 6.5, Salah 6, Firmino 5.5 (Sturridge 72 6)
SUBS NOT USED: Mignolet (GK); Fabinho, Shaqiri, Matip, Alexander-Arnold
BOOKINGS: Wijnaldum (90)
COACH: Jurgen Klopp 6.5
MAN CITY: (4-3-3) Ederson 6; Walker 7.5, Stones 8, Laporte 7, Mendy 7; Bernardo Silva 7.5, Fernandinho 7, Silva 6.5; Mahrez 5, Aguero 5 (Gabriel Jesus 65 6.5), Sterling 5.5 (Sane 75)
SUBS NOT USED: Muric (GK); Danilo, Kompany, Otamendi, Foden
BOOKINGS: B. Silva (21), Aguero (56), Mendy (63)
COACH: Pep Guardiola 7
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson 6.5
MAN OF THE MATCH: John Stones
There seemed to be some discussion with Gabriel Jesus, who had replaced Aguero after 65 unsuccessful minutes. Jesus looked like a man who was up for it. He’s a Brazilian striker. It’s in his DNA to want to be the hero.
Mahrez, however, was firm. He has taken penalties before, he has scored three times for City this season. He is probably the designated taker if Aguero is unavailable, too, blessed from on high.
It was his duty to win this match. Jesus complied, but it was obvious he didn’t like it. Had he known Mahrez’s record as he walked to the spot – four misses in his last seven penalties – he would have liked it even less.