In all the 10 games played against a top-six rival this season, Liverpool have not tasted defeat. In that, 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 against third placed Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Just as the scoreline suggests, it was an even game on Sunday night. Both clubs managed to execute a thrilling episode that heavily involved 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 late on with the score locked at 1-1. But Lallana could not make the required connection to turn it in from close range as the game ultimately ended in a draw.
It was Manchester City who started well but The Reds grew into the game gradually and ended the first half on the ascendancy. Jürgen Klopp's men continued on from there and were the better side in the initial part of the second half. The Manchester City midfield found it hard to deal with their incessant pressing, ending up giving the ball away on numerous occasions. The dominance brought the first goal for Liverpool through a foul on Firmino by Clichy inside the box.
It was skipper James Milner who stepped up to slot home the penalty to put the visitors ahead on the night. It’s become a given now, that when Milner scores, his team does not lose the match. At the full-time whistle, Milner’s Premier League record extended to 47 games, dating back to his days as a Manchester City player. The tally of 47 involves 37 wins and 10 draws.
This season, all Milner’s seven goals have come from penalties. It’s the second most number of spot-kick goals in a season by a Liverpool player, second only to Steven Gerrard’s 10 strikes in the 2013-14 campaign.
Though City stormed back into the game through Aguero’s smart finish, Liverpool fashioned many a chance 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 they do not face any team, unlike their competitors, from the top six in the remaining nine games.
Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have always thrown up intense clashes and the former is one of the few managers who have had the measure of Pep more often than not. Pep 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 manager at Borussia Dortmund.
Both managers would have been satisfied with a point a piece. James Milner summed up the match well: “That was very intense. 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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