Manchester City 1 – Liverpool 1
Manchester City and Liverpool had to settle for a point each in their battle for Champions League qualification after a thrilling 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium.
Former City player James Milner put Liverpool ahead in a ferocious, end-to-end Premier League contest with a 51st-minute penalty but Sergio Aguero’s 25th goal of the season earned City a share of the spoils.
Both sides had numerous chances to score a winner with City, responding well after their Champions League loss in Monaco, going closest when Kevin De Bruyne hit the post.
Aguero also had two more good late chances while, earlier, City’s Willy Caballero had been the busier of the two goalkeepers.
The first half, which started in heavy rain, was open, fast-paced and keenly fought. Both teams showed a determination to attack while some of the challenges were fierce.
Yaya Toure received a yellow card for catching Emre Can on the shoulder with his studs as he slid in, while emotions also ran high on the touchline. Opposing managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, both soaking wet, argued over one of a number of debatable decisions by referee Michael Oliver, although they ended the row with a warm high-five.
With David Silva pulling the strings, City made the best of the early running although Raheem Sterling’s eagerness to shine against his former club saw him stray offside several times.
Simon Mignolet turned a dangerous low ball from De Bruyne behind and Silva smashed a good chance narrowly wide.
City had penalty appeals rejected after Aguero went down following attention from Joel Matip and when Sterling claimed he was clipped by Milner as he looked to strike from close range. In the latter instance, City could still have taken the lead as the ball ran on to Fernandinho but the Brazilian shot wide.
Liverpool were also denied spot-kicks after Sadio Mane went down following contact with Nicolas Otamendi and Georginio Wijnaldum thought he was tripped.
Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana then both forced good saves from Caballero before John Stones did well to block a shot on the turn from Matip.
Liverpool were awarded a penalty early in the second half after Gael Clichy was adjudged to have bundled Firmino over. City protested, and continued to complain long after Milner had struck, but Oliver stuck by his decision.
Liverpool picked holes in the City defence but Guardiola then decided to replace the tiring Toure – restored after being surprisingly left out in midweek – with Bacary Sagna and move starting right-back Fernandinho into midfield.
The equaliser came soon after as De Bruyne found space on the right and curled in a dangerous low ball for Aguero to clip home from six yards. City pressed again and De Bruyne fired against the post after Aguero lost his balance looking to shoot himself.
Liverpool should have scored 11 minutes from time when Firmino got behind the defence to tee up Lallana but the England man, wide open as City wrongly assumed he was offside, missed his kick.
As the drama continued, Sterling poked narrowly wide as he latched onto a brilliant ball from Silva and Firmino drove another effort wide. Aguero could have had the final word but twice missed the target late on.