MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City ended Liverpool's short stay at the top of the English Premier League and moved ahead of its title rival after Alvaro Negredo secured a 2-1 victory in their Boxing Day encounter.
England's most potent attacking team quickly recovered after Phillippe Coutinho put Liverpool ahead in the 24th minute.
Vincent Kompany headed City level seven minutes later and Negredo's high shot was fumbled into the net by Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet on the stroke of halftime.
"That's the hardest game so far. Liverpool are a good team so it's great for us," Kompany said. "It's a weird (title race) because all the teams started a little slowly."
City ended the day as it started: A point behind the leaders. But Arsenal is back atop the standings, with City moving up a place to second and Liverpool dropping to fourth behind Chelsea.
"I thought we were absolutely outstanding," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. "(The players) had no help whatsoever from the officials. They were horrendous."
Aggrieved that Raheem Sterling had a goal ruled out for offside and Luis Suarez was denied a late penalty, Rodgers questioned why a referee from the Manchester area — Lee Mason of Bolton — was given a match involving a Manchester team.
Rodgers could face an English Football Association charge for calling into question the referee's integrity and implying potential bias.
"We never got any decision," Rodgers said.
Despite the setback, Liverpool was only three points behind leader Arsenal going into Sunday's match at Chelsea.
City, though, remain the favorite to repeat its 2012 title triumph after its ninth straight home win to start the season.
Manuel Pellegrini's side has beaten every team in the top eight apart from Chelsea, and has netted a league leading 53 goals in 18 games.
Despite going up against the high-scoring Suarez, City was again the superior attacking unit and created all the danger at the start.
Jesus Navas headed against the post after five minutes, Kompany missed the target with a header from Samir Nasri's corner, and Yaya Toure's shot was deflected wide.
It wasn't long, though, before City goalkeeper Joe Hart was called into action in his second league match after being dropped for two months.