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Premier League

  • November 27, 2011
  • • 16:00
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 45071

Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City: Balotelli sent off as league leaders are held at Anfield

Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City: Balotelli sent off as league leaders are held at Anfield

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Italian picks up two bookings as City went down to 10 men in second half while Liverpool were unable to capitalise on long periods of pressure following a first half equaliser

Manchester City remain unbeaten in the Premier League but could only extend their lead at the top of the table by a single point as Liverpool held them to a 1-1 draw.

City took the lead through Vincent Kompany in the first half as the captain headed in from a corner, but were quickly pegged back by a deflected Charlie Adam shot.

Liverpool were on the front foot for much of the second half, with Joe Hart on top form to deny Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and others after substitute Mario Balotelli was sent off after picking up two bookings in his 18 minutes on the pitch.

Craig Bellamy was declared unavailable for the match following the death of his friend and former team-mate, Wales manager Gary Speed.

Stewart Downing replaced Bellamy in the team, and manager Kenny Dalglish made one other change to the side who beat Chelsea last weekend as Jordan Henderson came into the team in place of Maxi Rodriguez.

The match started at a frenetic pace in the opening 10 minutes, though little came in the way of true chances.

City looked to be the more likely to open the scoring, keeping a high defensive line and pressing well inside the Liverpool half.

Sergio Aguero was in after 20 minutes when Charlie Adam was dispossessed by Gareth Barry. As City broke, Aguero was turned this way and that, but as he got to the byline he lost his footing and the ball slid out for a goal kick.

While there hadn’t been too much in the way of true efforts on goal, City were having more than their fair share of corners, and one of these led to the opening goal.

It was a fiercely whipped corner from one of the form players in the Premier League, David Silva. Vincent Kompany beat both of his markers to the ball, and somehow managed to find the back of the net after the ball cannoned of his shoulder and into the far corner.

But it only took Liverpool a matter of seconds to restore parity. Charlie Adam found himself in plenty of space, and elected to shoot which he had dragged off target. It was heading well wide until the intervention of Joleon Lescott, who unwittingly deflected the ball past Joe Hart and into the back of the net.

And shortly after the Scotsman really should have put the hosts in the lead. Some great play from Suarez put Kuyt through down the left, but the Dutchman was forced wide. After he doubled back, he found the on-rushing Adam just inside the penalty area, but he placed his right-footed shot too close to Hart, who managed to save despite heading in the other direction.

Into the second half, and Hart was called into action again, pushing over a Downing volley which had been struck into the floor but was heading into the top corner.

With just over 15 minutes to go, Liverpool came about as close as you can without scoring. Suarez picked up a corner that had drifted over before turning Clichy and firing the ball across from the byline.

The ball struck Lescott, and ricocheted onto Kuyt's chest, but this time the defender was in luck as the ball bounced out for a goal kick.

The home side were certainly looking the most likely to find a winner as the match drew towards the final stages, with the home crowd willing the ball into the net, and they played the remaining minutes with a man advantage after Balotelli was dismissed.

The Italian received his marching orders in the 83rd minute, having only been on the pitch for 18 of those. He picked up two quick bookings, one for a needless tug on Glen Johnson, and a second for an elbow to Martin Skrtel.

In the closing stages Hart made a good stop from Suarez at his near post before City broke through substitute Edin Dzeko.

Dzeko found an unmarked Silva in the centre, but the Spaniard was tied up by his countryman Reina with Skrtel getting back on the line to clear the eventual shot.

In the last action of the match, Hart was at full stretch to fabulously deny Carroll from a header that surely would have earned the hosts all three points, but the visitors maintained their unbeaten start to the season, and stay five points clear of their city rivals United at the league's summit.