In the 10 games played against a top-six rival this season, Liverpool have not tasted defeat. The Reds have managed to secure an impressive 20 points from a possible 30 against the elite English clubs, the latest outing being a 1-1 away draw at third-placed Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Just as the scoreline suggests, it was an even game on Sunday night. Both sides contributed to a spectacle of thrilling, end-to-end, high-intensity attacking football – all coupled with glaring misses.
Liverpool's Adam Lallana had the best chance of the match when Roberto Firmino found the English midfielder with a brilliant cutback following an incisive counterattack with the score locked at 1-1. But Lallana could not make the required connection to convert from close range.
City started well but Liverpool grew into the game gradually and ended the first half in control. Jurgen Klopp's men kicked on from there and were the better side in the initial part of the second half. The City midfield found it hard to deal with Liverpool's incessant pressing, consistently giving the ball away. The dominance brought the first goal for the Merseysiders after Firmino was fouled by Gael Clichy inside the box.
Skipper James Milner stepped up to slot home the penalty and put the visitors ahead on the night. And when Milner scores, his team does not lose. At the full-time whistle, Milner’s Premier League record extended to 47 games, dating back to his days as a City player. His tally of 47 goals involves 37 wins and 10 draws.
This season, all Milner’s seven goals have come from penalties. It’s the second highest number of spot-kick goals in a season by a Liverpool player, behind only Steven Gerrard’s 10 strikes in the 2013-14 campaign.
Though City stormed back into the game through Sergio Aguero’s smart finish, Liverpool fashioned many chances on the counter but were let down by their profligate finishing.
But the 1-1 result is a massive boost for Liverpool’s hopes of making it into the Champions League next season as, unlike their rivals, they do not face any team from the top six in the remaining nine games.
Interestingly, before Klopp took over at Liverpool, they had been victorious in just one of their last 16 trips on the road to Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and City.
Klopp and Pep Guardiola have always thrown up intense clashes and the former is one of the few managers who has had the measure of Pep more often than not. Guardiola trails Klopp 4-5 on head-to-head – a streak that dates back to when Guardiola was in charge of Bayern Munich and Klopp was with Borussia Dortmund.
Both managers would have been satisfied with the point. James Milner summed it up: “That was very intense," he said. "Both teams went for it and I’m sure it was a good game for a neutral. Disappointing not to get the three points once we went ahead, but maybe a draw was fair in the end.”
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