Man City 1-1 Liverpool: Spoils Shared in End-to-End Affair at Etihad as Both Fail to Close Gap

Joe Whitcombe

​Two of the Premier League's most attacking sides battled things out at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon, in a match of the highest quality, as both teams continued their pursuit of playing Champions League football next season. 

The game was also notable for the defensive solidity shown at times by two heavily criticised back lines, with the much-maligned John Stones playing particularly well. 

City started brightly, immediately looking to put pressure on Liverpool's full backs, looking to exploit James Milner with Raheem Sterling's speed, and to use Leroy Sane to counter Nathaniel Clyne's attacking nature. 

Early on they found some success, but Liverpool played a canny offside trap that worked surprisingly well, when considering the questions people have had about their defensive capabilities this season. 

Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League
Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League

The Citizens came closest to opening the scoring in the first twenty minutes, with Sane skillfully recovering from an overhit through ball to test Simon Mignolet well, with the normally-composed David Silva blazing the rebound over the Liverpool crossbar. 

The chance seemed to wake Liverpool up somewhat, and they began to enforce their signature pressing style on City's midfield, with Emre Can showing a marked improvement in his own tackling, to keep offensive momentum, though he did take a booth to the chest from Yaya Toure, whose reaction suggested his follow-through wasn't totally accidental. 

​​Toure then caused further outrage, when he brought down Georginio Wijnaldum in the area, after the Dutchman cheekily nutmegged him. Given the swarming nature of City's defence, it's possible that referee Michael Oliver's view was impeded, but there was clearly no effort to win the ball on the Ivorian's part, who was also freshly in the ref's book for the Can incident.

The clearest chance of the half came from a ball across the Liverpool box, with a questionable challenge from James Milner meaning the young Englishman ended up in the goal itself, with makeshift right back Fernandinho missing on the slide from about four yards out.  

The match was far from one-sided however, and Liverpool tested Willy Caballero in the Sky Blues' goal straight after, with Roberto Firmino cutting in on his right foot and curling a shot which was saved by the Argentine stopper. Caballero then called himself into action from the set piece, when his poor punch fell straight to Adam Lallana, who fired in a venomous volley that was saved once again.

The second half began at a similar breakneck tempo, and less than five minutes in, one of the multiple appeals for a penalty was finally answered when Michael Oliver penalised Gael Clichy for a challenge on Firmino. 

The Frenchman's attempted tackle was clumsy, but nowhere near as clear-cut. James Milner continued his flawless penalty record this season by converting his seventh of the season, against Caballero and giving the Reds the lead. 


City were undeterred however, despite some dissent for Michael Oliver's decision making, and they pressed on looking for the goals that the quality of the match deserved. However, Liverpool's lead being established meant that David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne would push higher to join the attacks, leaving Yaya Toure isolated in the deeper position of the midfield. 

This gave Lallana and Wijnaldum free reign to press the Ivorian like there was no tomorrow, in turn giving Liverpool chances after winning the ball back, as the bedraggled Toure was already booked, and couldn't risk any aggression. Firmino was once again able to test Caballero from one such incident. 

Sergio Aguero then came within inches of heading City level, but just seemed to get his angles wrong when meeting the wicked delivery into the box. Thankfully for the City talisman, this transpired to merely be a warning shot, and he finished superbly from De Bruyne's low ball in, masterfully getting ahead of the previously excellent Ragnar Klavan. 

City pushed on even further, looking to win rather than draw, to try and keep pace with Spurs and second place. However, they were now even more vulnerable to the counter, and a stunning piece of interplay set up a glorious opportunity for Liverpool, with Adam Lallana found desperately lacking for composure as he scuffed the shot from five yards out. 

City then missed their own sitter in stoppage time, as Aguero volleyed over a cross to the far post from a simple angle. 

Ultimately neither team quite did enough to get themselves the victory, but both sides left everything on the pitch, and both managers will feel that based on the chances that their oppositions had, the result could've been far far worse for them. 


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