Reds drew 1-1 with the Premier League leaders on Sunday as the controversial Italian striker saw red for Roberto Mancini's side, with goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for the point
By Greg Stobart at Anfield
In the circumstances, it was a good result for Manchester City as they restored their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League by holding on for a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Sunday.
Reduced to 10 men in the 83rd after Mario Balotelli was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Martin Skrtel, City survived waves of Liverpool pressure to cling on for a point.
Joe Hart was in inspired form for Roberto Mancini's side and produced a show-stopping save in the dying seconds to keep out Andy Carroll's powerful header.
The only time the City keeper was beaten was when Joleon Lescott turned the ball into his own net in the 33rd minute, less than two minutes after Vincent Kompany had put the visitors ahead with a glancing header.
Here, Goal.com takes a look at what we learned from an enthralling encounter at Anfield...
|HERO HART CAN SAVE CITY 10 POINTS
Joe Hart has found himself a virtual spectator for much of the season but produced his best display of the campaign to ensure City left Anfield with a point. As Liverpool piled on the pressure, they increasingly found a way through the City defence but could not beat Hart.
The flying save to keep out Andy Carroll's header in added time was stunning and carried with it more than a little showmanship. The 24-year-old also made fine stop in the second half to keep out Stewart Downing and Luis Suarez in addition to an earlier block that denied Charlie Adam.
A top keeper is said to be worth 10 points in a title-challenging team and Hart could well be worth that for City. His excellent performance will also be of encouragement for Fabio Capello, who can take England to a major tournament confident that he has a reliable, consistent goalkeeper between the posts.
|LIVERPOOL NEED GOALS - AND A NEW STRIKER
Luis Suarez is without doubt one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League and he showed it once again by giving Vincent Kompany a difficult afternoon with his movement, trickery and endless work rate. The problem for Liverpool, however, is that the Uruguayan has scored only four league goals this season, mainly due to profligacy but also, in part, because he is so often the man playing the final pass to create a chance for a team-mate.
With Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt also wasteful in front of goal, the end result is that Liverpool have scored just 17 Premier League goals, the same as bottom-placed Blackburn. Four draws in their last four home games is the consequence of scoring only nine goals so far this season at Anfield.
The January transfer window could offer an opportunity to sign a ruthless goalscorer in the penalty box to put the finishing touch to the Reds' build-up play and turn draws into wins.
|LUCAS IS LEADING THE REDS
Liverpool have produced impressive displays in recent weeks in no small part thanks to the outstanding form of Lucas, the Brazilian midfielder. Sitting in front of the back four, he produced a commanding display against City to deny the likes of David Silva space to operate.
Just as in the victory at Chelsea, Lucas was always on hand to snuff out danger as he made six interceptions and won all 11 attempted tackles. His dogged work in midfield broke up City's play and his accurate passing helped set the Reds off on the counterattack. He has been outstanding this season and has taken responsibility to control the midfield for Liverpool in the absence of captain Steven Gerrard.
|CITY ARE NOT UNBEATABLE
In the end, it was a good weekend for Manchester City as they fought their way through a tough game to emerge with a five-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
After United only drew with Newcastle, the most important thing for City was to avoid defeat and in that respect they showed the spirit of potential champions. Rival clubs will, however, be encouraged by an increasing sense of fallibility about a side that looked unstoppable a month ago.
City are still flying in the Premier League but their disappointing Champions League campaign has shown their naivety and inexperience in such situations. Mancini suggested his side were tired on Sunday after the defeat in Napoli in midweek, but those are the demands on all of the top clubs in Europe.
City have kept only one clean sheet in their last 10 matches and, although Joleon Lescott's own goal was unfortunate, will know that they could easily have lost to Liverpool after conceding a number of chances, particularly in the second half. It will be a concern for Mancini.
|WHY ALWAYS BALOTELLI?
Kenny Dalglish was right: Mario Balotelli should look in the mirror. Regardless of whether his second booking in the 83rd minute was warranted, the Italian striker should not have jumped into Martin Skrtel with his arm raised. It was a risky thing to do when he was on a yellow card (for a stupid tug on Glen Johnson) and City were coming under sustained pressure from Liverpool.
More perturbing, for someone who had been appearing to mature so much in the last couple of months, was Balotelli's petulant reaction that once again brings his temperament into question. After an argument with Mancini on the touchline, he went on to kick a hole in the away dressing room door at Anfield. Balotelli has been in fine form this season and has been repaying Mancini's faith in him, but Sunday proved he still has a long way to go before he can be relied upon.