Trent Alexander-Arnold cancelled out Erling Haaland’s opener late in the game to earn Liverpool a 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Haaland’s 27th-minute strike, his 50th Premier League goal, had put City in control of the game and the defending champions had chances to secure a 24th win from 24 home games in all competitions but were left stunned by Alexander-Arnold’s late equaliser.
The draw was enough to keep Pep Guardiola’s team at the top of the Premier League table upon the final whistle, still one point ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, but having leaked away points late on for the second game in a row, this title race is very much on.
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (6), Dias (7), Akanji (6), Ake (7), Rodri (7), Silva (7), Foden (6), Alvarez (6), Doku (8), Haaland (7).
Liverpool: Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (8), Matip (7), Van Dijk (6), Tsimikas (7), Mac Allister (7), Szoboszlai (6), Jones (5), Salah (6), Nunez (5), Jota (5).
Subs: Diaz (6), Gravenberch (6), Gakpo (6), Endo (n/a), Elliott (n/a).
Player of the match: Trent Alexander-Arnold
How the game played out
Alisson Becker’s reputation as a top-class goalkeeper has been hard earned but he endured a difficult day in the Liverpool goal. He was fortunate to escape punishment early on after inexplicably gifting the ball to Phil Foden for the first opening of the game.
Liverpool knew top spot was theirs with a win and wanted to be proactive. “If we let them roll with it, then they are too good and it is really tricky,” Klopp had told Sky Sports beforehand. “If you can interrupt that rhythm then we can have our own moments.”
They did. Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah have created the most chances for each other and assisted each other more than any other pairing in the Premier League this season. It was their attacking threat that brought Liverpool’s first opportunity at the other end.
- Man City: Pep Guardiola made just one change to the team that drew 4-4 at Chelsea. Nathan Ake came in at left-back with Josko Gvardiol dropping to the bench.
- Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp made two changes to the team that beat Brentford before the break. Curtis Jones and Alexis Mac Allister came in for Wataru Endo and Cody Gakpo.
Joel Matip’s driving run opened up space for Salah and his cross found the head of Nunez unmarked in the middle. The Uruguay international striker nodded the ball towards the top corner but Ederson’s outstretched right hand denied the Liverpool man.
It was a tale of two Brazilian goalkeepers at that stage. Another poor kick from Alisson led to the game’s opening goal. In attempting to send Salah away, he only sliced the ball as far as Nathan Ake, who beat two before feeding Haaland to score into the corner.
Haaland’s fitness had been a doubt coming into the contest but instead he netted his 50th Premier League goal in only his 48th appearance in the competition – beating the record by 17 games. Brentford are now the only team he has played but not scored against.
But there was a response from Liverpool. Nunez had a series of openings. He was presented with one opportunity by Manuel Akanji, the defender proving less comfortable than John Stones when stepping into midfield. But City took a deserved lead into the break.
The home side started the second half slowly but still had the clearer openings, Julian Alvarez and Haaland both blazing over the bar. Alisson was then lucky to see Akanji’s tame challenge on him ruled to be a foul, meaning Ruben Dias’ tap-in was disallowed.
Everton fans protest with banner
During the second half, protesting Everton fans paid for a plane to fly over the Etihad carrying a message that was critical of the Premier League after the Toffees’ 10-point deduction for a breach of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.
It proved to be a big moment in the match because, having hung in there, Liverpool found an 80th-minute equaliser. Set up by Salah, Alexander-Arnold arrowed a low shot into the corner of Ederson’s net to stun the champions and spark the celebrations in the away end.
It was reward for Liverpool’s endeavour but a little cruel on a City side that had come close to finding the second goal, Jeremy Doku tormenting the opposition defence. There was even time for Haaland to head wide of the far post from close range in stoppage-time.
Instead, for the second successive game, Manchester City failed to finish off their opponents, to leave this title race still in the balance.
FPL stats: Man City 1-1 Liverpool
|Ake (3), Doku (3), Haaland (1)
Pep pleased and will take the point
Guardiola was happy with his team’s performance despite admitting that his own players were upset to have dropped two points late in the game.
“To concede just two chances against that team,” he said. “The way we made the build-up, the way that Manuel Akanji and Rodri played in those ridiculous spaces, it was really, really good. How we defended the set pieces, everything was a really high standard.
“It was really good. They are happy, we are little less happy. This is football. I am really pleased. So proud of my team.
“When they run it is heavy metal. When they make a transition, when they make one or two passes and contact with Salah, you cannot stop them. You just pray. Go on your knees and try to defend. Today, we defended well. Against Chelsea, we were really poor.
“I know against which team we are playing. I know how difficult it is to do what we have done. So difficult.
“They are upset in the locker room, they are little bit sad because they feel we had the chance to do it and did not do it. But this is football. Football is like that. Statistics do not count. I am going to take my bottle of wine with one point.”
Klopp: We passed a test today
“We had good moments in the first half but we did not feel them properly,” said Klopp.
“All their good moments had a big impact. We lost compactness. We were in a rush to press Ederson with nothing around and that opened up the half-spaces. Even when we were together they found Bernardo too often. It was a bit tricky.
“In the second half, we made that a bit clearer. We scored a goal, a very positive thing.”
It was Alexander-Arnold who found that goal on a day when he was tested defensively by the performance of City winger Jeremy Doku. “Trent, in all situations, was an important player and had a really good goal,” said Klopp of the Sky Sports player of the match.
“He played a very good game. He did it well and still had his moments with Doku when he was in one-against-one situations. You could see how difficult it was against a really good dribbler. I think Trent was pretty influential today.”
Did his team pass the ultimate test in becoming the first team in 2023 to leave the Etihad Stadium with a point? “I think we passed a test today. I’m not sure it was the test.” Either way, it was a big improvement on the 4-1 defeat that Liverpool suffered here last season.
“Last year, we got under the wheels and had no real chance. If you see who would have been more likely to have won the game, it was City. But we have won games with less. We gave them a proper game.”
The only disappointment for Klopp were possible injuries to Diogo Jota and goalkeeper Alisson. “The shadow on this game was that Ali felt something and Diogo felt something.”
What happened with Nunez and Guardiola?
There appeared to be a brief altercation between Guardiola and the Liverpool striker Nunez following the final whistle with Klopp dragging his player away while Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders restrained Guardiola.
Both coaches were keen to downplay the incident afterwards.
“He is just stronger than me,” said Guardiola. “Nothing happened. It is not frustration. I am really pleased. The second question in the press conference?”
Klopp drew a laugh in his own press conference when asked what happened, saying: “I am not sure I am the one who should explain it because I was absolutely not involved. Surprisingly.”
He added: “I love them both so I tried to calm the situation down without knowing 100 per cent what happened because I did not understand a word. I really think it is nothing that has not already been sorted. It is emotion. Pep wants to win. We want to win.
“We both did not win so nobody is really happy.”
Analysis: Man City leaving door ajar?
There was a moment midway through the second half when Phil Foden had the opportunity to dart forward with the ball in an attempt to expose the Liverpool defence during a hectic phase in the game. Rodri could be seen gesturing for him to calm down.
Manchester City’s playmaker wanted to control the game, manage it. As it turned out, his team’s failure to find a second goal proved costly. It is the first time that City have surrendered points from a winning position in consecutive games since 2018.
Perhaps that can be partly explained by uncertainty whether to push for the next goal or hold on to a slender lead. Asked beforehand if this game would be more like the sterile showing at Arsenal or the chaotic contest at Chelsea, Guardiola appeared unsure.
Liverpool were hardly cutting through his team at will, in truth. But Alexander-Arnold needed only the slightest invitation to unleash a shot from the edge of the penalty area. Quality players are capable of seizing those moments and he did so.
City will still feel that they were unfortunate. They had twice as many shots and the expected-goals tallies of 1.38 plays 0.55 suggest that this performance could easily have resulted in a narrow victory. But when it is this tight, the margins can go against you.
Those tight games are becoming a trend against the stronger sides. Arsenal edged them out in the Community Shield and by the odd goal in the Premier League. City beat Newcastle 1-0 in the league but went out of the Carabao Cup to them by the same scoreline.
Add the 2-1 win over Brighton and these draws against Chelsea and Liverpool and it is only really Manchester United of the fancied teams who have been blown away. City have still looked good for long periods of these games but it is enough to offer hope to their rivals.
Man City are in Champions League action on Tuesday when they host RB Leipzig; kick-off 8pm.
Their next Premier League assignment is on Sunday December 3 when they host Tottenham, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm.
Meanwhile, Liverpool host LASK on Thursday in the Europa League; kick-off 8pm.
In the Premier League, Klopp’s side host Fulham at Anfield, also on Sunday December 3; kick-off 2pm.
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