Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola acclaimed his side’s draw with Liverpool as ‘the proudest day of his coaching career’.
The top four contenders played out a scintillating game at The Etihad, with Sergio Aguero cancelling out James Milner’s penalty in a match filled with incident.
Both sides squandered easy chances and felt they suffered from contentious decisions. City hit the post and Liverpool could have extended their lead during a blistering spell after they went ahead.
For Guardiola, his side’s physical and mental recovery after their Champions League exit was most satisfying.
“We lived a tough two days after going out the Champions League because of our mood after Monaco,” said Guardiola.
“It was tough playing a team like Liverpool who were preparing all the week for the game. After going out the Champions League the next game is always difficult. I am so proud of my players. We were sad (in midweek) so that is why I am so happy.
“It is one of happiest days of my career as a manager. I am so proud.
“You have to consider the situation we played this game. How we played against them, a top team - they have exceptional players - means a lot to me. That is why I am so happy.
“My players put everything onto the pitch. More than ever I want to help the club - if they want to stay with me - and make the next step forward.
“I came here for three years and want to stay for three years and next year play better.”
Guardiola felt his side’s lack of ruthlessness cost them two points, arguing this has been the theme of the season.
“Liverpool created more chances than Monaco but we also create a lot of chances and do not score goals,” he said.
“To achieve the big targets you have to be more clinical. It is not just today. I have thought a lot what more I can do to get my players to score goals?
“In my career I scored eleven goals - one goal a year – what can I say to Sergio (Aguero)?”
During an animated post match press conference, Guardiola also singled out centre-half John Stones for praise.
“John Stones has more personality than everyone in this room – more balls – I am delighted to have him, even with the mistakes,” said Guardiola.
“I love him. It is not easy to play for this kind of manager which is why I admire my central defenders.”
Jurgen Klopp offered a dry response when informed how giddy his opposite number one was to have earned a home point against his side.
“Maybe Spanish are more emotional than Germans,” he joked.
Klopp revealed his midfielder Adam Lallana apologised for missing a chance that would have won it for his side, the England man miskicking from six yards after Liverpool cut through the City defence in one of numerous counter-attacks.
"Obviously he is one of the best technical players I have ever worked with,” said Klopp.
“He said sorry and I said ‘why?’ His performance was outstanding. It was a wonderful piece of football that we could not finish. It is not easy with so many kilometres in your legs which he needed to get there.
“The game was positive. Very good. The way you have to play against good sides. “We had some problems and they came back.
“It is very important that we give the sign that we can perform like this and I thought we deserved to win a little more. It was a nice game to watch but on the sidelines very hard work, and hard work for both teams.
“We had a phase between 50 and 70 minutes where we had them and didn't close the game. We let them recover on the pitch, so they came back.We had the chance with Roberto Firmino and then Adam’s opportunity.”
Liverpool have now played the rest of the top six home and away, going unbeaten across ten games.
They remain in the top four ahead of Manchester United, but the race for the Champions League has become congested.
“We are still in a battle,” said Klopp.
“The next game is against Everton, they have come from behind (in the table) and it is quite impressive, so it is not only a derby, it’s another very important game.
There is one outstanding side this year – an outstanding and consistent side – and they will be champions probably. That is well deserved and all the rest fight for the Champions League. We are one of these sides. If you do it, it’s a success and if we don’t do it, we will be disappointed, but we would not stop working and would not stop believing in this project. We are really convinced about the circumstances we have and we want to use it.”