The gap stays at one point with seven matches to go in the 2021/22 Premier League season as Liverpool and Manchester City drew 2-2 at the Etihad-the same scorelines from their first meeting last October at Anfield.
They meet again next Saturday in an FA Cup semi-final clash that cannot end in a draw.
The hype was huge and the performance from both Manchester City and Liverpool matched all the ink used. Pep Guardiola, as he usually does in big matches, shocked everyone by picking Gabriel Jesus as one of his front three attackers. But he repaid the faith as the two teams played out another 2-2 to leave life in both their title quests.
The Brazilian did not disappoint as he gave Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson all sorts of challenges, especially in the first half as he found space around the left-back to wreak havoc.
Kevin de Bruyne gave the Citizens the lead as early as the fourth minute when he waltzed past Fabinho and his shot took a deflection and flew past Alisson, and in off the post. This was immediately after the Liverpool goalkeeper had saved well from Raheem Sterling.
The city had their hands on Liverpool’s neck and had chances through Sterling and Jesus but Klopp’s men finally found their feet and scored with their first attack.
After an excellent cross-field pass from Thiago to open the City defence, Robertson found his right back at the back post, who laid it on a plate for Jota to equalise. Ederson will believe he could have made the save. Game on.
Rodri slightly misplaced a headed pass to John Stones from a free-kick situation in the 25th minute. If he got it right, it would have been a tap-in for the defender.
In the 37th minute, Liverpool failed to properly clear a corner and Cancelo picked out Jesus who was being marked by Alexander-Arnold.
The Liverpool defender was caught on the wrong side and failed to follow Jesus’ run. The Brazilian calmly lifted the ball over Alisson and under the crossbar. This was Jesus’ fifth goal in five games versus Liverpool at the Etihad and his first in the league since September 25, away at Chelsea.
Jota had a half-chance to get his shot off in the 44th minute but Aymeric Laporte made a great recovery tackle to snuff out the chance. It was 2-1 going into the interval with City with more ball possession-55-45 per cent while Liverpool had conjured up two counterattacks.
The second half was just 47 seconds old when Liverpool found their second equaliser. A through ball from Mohamed Salah, who was quiet throughout the first half, sliced open the City defence, and Sadio Mane slotted it past Ederson. Game on again.
Van Dijk was needed to complete clearance on the hour as the momentum swung City’s way and Sterling thought he had City’s third in the 63rd minute but VAR checks showed he had been marginally offside.
Klopp sent on Luis Diaz for Jota in the 70th; Guardiola replaced Sterling with Riyad Mahrez. Jordan Henderson came off for Naby Keita as both managers tried to refresh their teams. There were many niggly fouls in this period as both teams tried to snuff out any danger from midfield.
Jack Grealish came on for Jesus in the 83rd minute and Roberto Firmino came on for Mane. it looked to have dawned on both teams that it was better not to lose than go gung-ho chasing a winning goal.
A cynical tackle from Van Dijk stopped De Bruyne in his tracks and he was shown a yellow card. From the resultant free-kick, Mahrez hit Alisson’s right post and flew wide. Four minutes were added on by referee Anthony Taylor
Mahrez had a chance to win it after a cute pass from De Bruyne had split open the Liverpool defence but with Alisson off his lines, he chipped the ball over the bar.
At the end of a totally enjoyable encounter, Manchester City and Liverpool ended it as you were told before the start.
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