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Pulsating Anfield Score Draw

Like two heavyweight boxers, Liverpool and Manchester City exchanged punches in a pulsating 1-1 draw, with both sides spurning great chances to take all three points in the final minutes. Alexis Mac Allister, who’d earlier equalised a first-half City strike with a clinically despatched penalty, was denied what should surely have been a second spot kick in the 98th minute.

City started the brighter and, with Liverpool without Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker and Ibrahima Konate – certain starters when fit – the league champions took a deserved lead. A deftly struck corner to the near post was bundled home by John Stones and Jurgen Klopp’s men were struggling to get a foothold on the game. Darwin Nunez, lacking support, continued to stray offside whilst Luis Diaz slashed an opportunity wide. Conor Bradley meanwhile, toiled with some success down the right and Jarell Quansah, alongside Virgil van Dijk, repelled sporadic threats from a largely-subdued Erling Haaland.

The second half saw a reversal of the first, Liverpool immediately taking charge. A rush of blood from Ederson leading to him wildly felling Nunez in front of a baying Anfield crowd culminated in a spot kick. After a long delay due to an injury to the Brazilian goalkeeper, the superb Mac Allister thundered home the penalty. Liverpool and the crowd smelled blood and, for fifteen minutes or more, laid siege to what looked like a fragile City defence.

Having earlier been booked, Rodri was walking a tightrope in midfield and, with Wataru Endo helping to take charge of the centre of the pitch, Liverpool looked the more likely winners. Diaz wasting two glorious opportunities to seal the points; firstly when hitting wide whilst one on one following a defence splitting pass from substitute Mo Salah, and then inexplicably failing to shoot with his first touch when just yards from goal.

By now, City were largely playing on the counter-attack and it took a smart save from the again impressive Caoimhin Kelleher to smother an effort from Phil Foden. The Irishman then had some good fortune, as Doku struck a post in added time, the ball landing back in Kelleher’s arms as blue shirts approached. Then came the most contentious moment of the game.

Andy Robertson took a corner in the final minute and, as the ball bounced up to Mac Allister in the penalty box, Doku studded him in the chest. Surely VAR would at least advise that referee Michael Oliver review the incident on the pitchside monitor. Yet, with Klopp apoplectic on the touchline, rightly later claiming that every football fan on the planet believed the incident to be what could have been a title-deciding penalty, VAR chose to dismiss claims for a second spot kick.

So after 98 mins, Guardiola and Klopp, the two defining managers of the modern Premier League, shook hands on a draw, just as they had at the Etihad earlier in the season. With the points shared, Arsenal were probably the happiest of onlookers, as they now sit top of the table. Yet, with just one point separating the three best teams in the country and ten league games to play, there’ll surely be many a twist and turn before the destiny of the title is decided.

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