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    Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool Match Report

    Manchester City bounced back from their Champions League defeat against Monaco to claim a creditable draw against Liverpool in one of the most entertaining matches of the season so far.

    Both sides missed several chances to take all three points in an end-to-end game, while referee Michael Oliver turned down four penalty appeals in addition to the one he awarded Liverpool early in the second-half.

    James Milner confidently put Liverpool ahead from the spot, with Manchester City equalising just after the midway point of the second-half through Sergio Aguero's 25th goal of the season.

    Both teams squandered guilt-edged chances to take the lead in a thrilling finale to the match, with a draw failing to suit the needs of either manager in their forlorn hopes of catching Chelsea at the top of the table.

    Manchester City went into the game in excellent form, but had been stunned four days earlier when Monaco overturned a 5-3 deficit to knock them out of the Champions League and end the club's 11-game unbeaten run.

    Pep Guardiola responded to the defeat by recalling Yaya Toure and Nicolas Otamendi to the starting XI in place of Bacary Sagna and Aleksandar Kolarov, while Fernandinho was converted as a makeshift right-back.

    Opponents Liverpool, meanwhile, had recently won back-to-back matches for the first time since December and were looking to maintain their proud unbeaten run against the Premier League's top-six clubs.

    The Reds were still without injured duo Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, although Roberto Firmino returned after a thigh problem and there was a place on the bench for Dejan Lovren who had been absent since January.

    It was City who made an electrifying start to the match, with Sergio Aguero coming close to giving the hosts an early lead when he was inches away from reaching Fernandinho's low cross to the near-post.

    The Argentine forward claimed he was bundled to the ground by Joel Matip when he tried to turn the ball home from four yards but referee Michael Olivier appeared unperturbed as he allowed play to continue.

    The Sky Blues should have taken the lead after 20 minutes when Leroy Sane was denied by the legs of Simon Mignolet, while David Silva struck the ball wide from the rebound when it sat up invitingly for him to unleash a trademark left-footed effort.

    After weathering a barrage of one-way City pressure in the opening 20 minutes, Liverpool began to grow into the match as Sadio Mane frequently stretched the home side's defence with his blistering pace.

    As he chased down John Stones' back-pass, the Senegal international's speed took him past Otamendi but he stumbled to the ground just as he was about to size-up an effort on goal.

    Although Mane protested that he was fouled by Otamendi, which could have resulted in a penalty and a red card, television replays showed the Liverpool player's heel making contact with the City defender.

    In the latter stages of the half, it was City's turn to have a penalty appeal turned down when Raheem Stirling was fouled by James Milner after he was presented with a two-yard tap-in from David Silva's left-wing cross.

    Milner's right foot made contact with Sterling's heel as the City winger was preparing to turn the ball home, while a stretching Fernandinho could only find the side netting when he was presented with a gaping net.

    Despite being under the cosh for much of the opening 45 minutes, it was the visitors who ended the half the stronger team as Willy Caballero was called upon to make excellent saves from Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana.

    The Argentine stopper palmed away Firmino's strike that appeared to be heading for the top-corner, while he needed to be alert to tip Lallana's left-footed effort over the crossbar from the resulting corner.

    Jurgen Klopp's side returned from their dressing room in the same positive manor as they started the second-half, with John Stones blocking Mane's effort after Lallana had pulled the ball back into the unmarked winger's path.

    As Liverpool continued to ask questions of the City defence, Emre Can's cleverly-weighted pass put Firmino in the clear before the Brazilian was felled to the ground by Gael Clichy's high foot.

    The Frenchman, who was eager to recover ground after a momentary slip, failed to make contact with the ball as referee Oliver pointed to the spot for the first time of the afternoon after several earlier appeals.

    James Milner confidently stroked the ball into the corner of the net, with Caballero diving the wrong way, to give Liverpool the lead with his seventh successful penalty of the season.

    Klopp's side refused to sit back to defend their advantage and continued to cause problems for the City defence, with Caballero being forced to make a crucial save from Firmino after Coutinho's pass had sent his Brazilian teammate through on goal.

    The save was made all the more significant eight minutes later when Kevin De Bruyne's low cross was side-footed home by Sergio Aguero from close-range to give the Sky Blues a deserved equaliser.

    Both teams were relentless in the efforts to find a winning goal in the final 20 minutes, with even the easiest of chances being missed as the flow of the game moved from one end to the other.

    Firstly, Firmino had the chance to put the visitors ahead for a second time but he could only find the side-netting as he attempted to deceive Caballero at the near-post.

    Aguero and Sane then combined cleverly minutes later, with the German's back heel giving the striker a chance he would normally convert in his sleep only for him to stumble at the last moment.

    After Liverpool had failed to clear the ball successfully, De Bruyne then had another chance for City but the German's left-footed effort struck the post before the ball finally found its way to safety.

    For all the many opportunities that arose throughout the match, it was Adam Lallana's failure to convert a guilt-edged chance with only eight minutes remaining that will live longest in the memory.

    After Firmino had played the ball into his path, an onside Lallana only had Caballero to beat but he somehow failed to make meaningful contact despite having a near-gaping net ahead of him.

    The opportunities continued to come thick and fast for both teams as David Silva's lofted ball picked out Raheem Sterling but the former Liverpool winger failed to find the target with his effort.

    There were also City appeals for a penalty after Sterling, who had already struck the ball towards goal, was bundled to the ground by Simon Mignolet's challenge with referee Oliver pointing only towards the corner flag.

    As City continued their relentless pursuit of finding a winning goal, gaps began to appear for the visitors to exploit on the counter-attack with Firmino shooting into the side-netting after he collected Mane's pass.

    The end-to-end nature of the game continued into stoppage-time as City created one last chance for Sergio Aguero, with the Argentine blazing De Bruyne's dinked cross over the bar from six yards.

    Although City were not able to find the winning goal, it didn't seem to hamper the mood of manager Pep Guardiola who hailed the character of his team to bounce back from the Champions League defeat to Monaco only four days earlier.

    Guardiola, who won the last ever European Cup as a player and the Champions League twice as a manager, described the performance as giving him "one of the most special days of my life."

    The day may have resulted in all three points for City had James Milner's challenge on Raheem Sterling resulted in a spot-kick and a red card, while the home side also had penalty appeals turned down for challenges on Aguero and Sterling.

    The Sky Blues came close on several occasions to scoring a winning goal but it was the uncharacteristic miss by Aguero in the first minute of stoppage-time that will cause most anguish for his side once the dust settles on the match.

    The hard-fought and potentially valuable point leaves City 12 points behind leaders Chelsea and two behind second-place Tottenham, who both won over the course of the weekend.

    Jurgen Klopp's side, meanwhile, will also reflect on key points in the game such as Roberto Firmino's opportunity to give his team a 2-0 lead and Adam Lallana's guilt-edged chance to win the game in the final 10 minutes.

    The Reds showed plenty of character to respond to City's fast start in the first 20 minutes and delivered a counter-attacking masterclass thereafter, with only the end product lacking from the performance.

    The result takes Liverpool four points ahead of Manchester United and six clear of Arsenal in the race for a Champions League spot, although both clubs have two matches in hand.

    Both Liverpool and City return to Premier League action after the international break, with The Reds facing neighbours Everton at Anfield on April 1 and Guardiola's side playing Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium the following day.
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    Item Reviewed: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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