Neither Liverpool nor Manchester City could replace Chelsea at the top of the Premier League heading into the October international break after a pulsating 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Four goals in 22 minutes lit up a hugely dramatic second half in the heavyweight clash between title rivals on Merseyside, with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah both putting the hosts in front, only for man of the match Phil Foden and then Kevin De Bruyne to hit back and earn a deserved share of the spoils.
Liverpool – unchanged from their Champions League thrashing of FC Porto, with James Milner continuing to deputise for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back – made the better start to proceedings after a wonderful pre-match tribute to the late Roger Hunt, with Aymeric Laporte alert to clear a couple of dangerous crosses and a corner flying over the head of a leaping Joel Matip.
But after sitting deep initially, City – showing two changes from the midweek defeat to Paris Saint-Germain as Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez made way for Foden and Gabriel Jesus – quickly grabbed the upper hand and Jack Grealish saw a shot blocked by Matip before Andy Robertson made a key header behind at the back post to see off a Bernardo Silva delivery.
The impressive Foden headed wide from an offside position and then had the first big chance of the afternoon, with Alisson blocking his shot after wonderful play from Bernardo, who had won possession from Jordan Henderson in the middle of the park before skipping forward.
City were firmly on top and had a strong appeal for a penalty when Foden was tripped by the struggling Milner, but he was denied by referee Paul Tierney after initially trying to stay on his feet.
De Bruyne also stooped low to head well over from a great position after being teed up by the busy Foden.
Foden had another key opportunity just before half-time after being released by a sublime long ball from Ederson and once again getting in behind Milner, but there was Alisson to make another key challenge.Liverpool ended the first half with just one shot – their fewest in a home league game since January 2017.
However, they upped the tempo immediately after the interval as Klopp stuck with the same XI despite Milner’s struggles, with Matip fizzing a low pass through midfield and into the feet of Diogo Jota, who tested Ederson’s reflexes with a stinging low effort.They got their reward for that resurgence just shy of the hour mark, when Salah broke down the right flank, drove past Rodri and played in Mane, who slipped the ball coolly beyond Ederson for his 99th Premier League goal as Anfield erupted.
Ex-Liverpool man Sterling was roundly booed as he was sent on to change the course of the game, with City equalising after 10 minutes when Gabriel Jesus skipped past Salah and Fabinho before firing the ball across to Foden, who rifled a superb finish into the far corner despite a heavy first touch that made the angle tougher.
But Liverpool quickly took the lead again courtesy of a sublime individual goal from Salah. The Egyptian showed exquisite skill to escape the attentions of three City defenders before twisting and turning beyond Laporte and blasting past Ederson to score for the seventh game in a row.
Guardiola was furious as he felt Milner – already on a yellow card following his first-half horrow show against Foden – should have been sent off minutes before that goal after a cynical trip on Bernardo.
But the drama didn’t stop there as Foden tried to set up Kyle Walker and the ball fell nicely for De Bruyne, whose shot was inadvertently deflected into his own net by Matip. Alisson would have been on hand to make the initial save.
Liverpool looked set to retake the lead with just three minutes left after Ederson completely missed a free-kick to the back post, but Fabinho was denied by a crucial, point-saving sliding block from Rodri.
Both teams pushed for a late winner, but had to settle for a draw as Liverpool stayed second in the table and City moved up to third, with Chelsea a point clear at the top heading into the second international break of the season.
The best of the action from a dramatic afternoon at Anfield, with two fantastic Reds goals cancelled out by Manchester City: pic.twitter.com/b9iujWG5d5— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 3, 2021
OTHER EPL RESULTS
- Westham 1 Brentford 2
- Tottenham 2 Aston villa 1
- Crystal palace 2 Leicester 2
- Brighton 0 Arsenal 0
- Leeds united 1 Watford 0
- Burnley 0 Norwich 0
- Wolves 2 Newcastle 1
- Chelsea 3 Southampton 1
- Manchester united 1 Everton 1