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Liverpool and Man City were fighting own fatigue as relentless demands take toll


As Sven Goran Eriksson famously used to say – first-half good, second-half not so good.

In fact, the first-half was electric, the two best teams in the land producing a breathless spectacle packed with goals, end-to-end action and penalties, but unable to maintain that level after the break.

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City’s match-winner on so many occasions in recent years, will be racked with recrimination over the missed first-half penalty which ultimately cost his side victory.

De Bruyne had a 100 per cent record with penalties since taking over spot-kick duties from Sergio Aguero in February, scoring five and proving to be unflappable under pressure.

But he screwed the ball horribly wide here, and with it went City’s chances of clawing their way to within two points of Jurgen Klopp’s reigning champions and their main title rivals.



Kevin De Bruyne missed from the penalty spot

By the end, the teams were fighting their own fatigue as much as each other, the relentless demands of the fixture schedule taking their toll, as both managers seemed content with a point.

Honours even was not a disaster for either side at this early stage of an already unpredictable season, Liverpool moving up to third, within a point of league leaders Leicester.

For City, their slow crawl up the table continued, Pep Guardiola’s side edging up a place to 11th, albeit with a game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s side.



Mohamed Salah opened the scoring

They may not be anywhere near their best yet, but they are heading in the right direction, now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions.

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City felt they should have been awarded a free-kick in the 11th minute when Raheem Sterling was clipped by Diogo Jota as he surged goalwards, but the winger stayed on his feet.

Sterling’s honesty ultimately cost City, as Liverpool went up the other end straight away and won a penalty, Kyle Walker fouling Sadio Mane after the forward had executed a smart turn.

It was a clumsy and needless foul, Mo Salah converting from the spot for his 10th goal of the season.



Gabriel Jesus struck to earn City a point

Guardiola was furious with the failure to award City a free-kick, making his feelings known to fourth official Andre Marriner in the wake of Salah’s penalty.

But City levelled in the 31st minute, Walker feeding the ball in to De Bruyne, who in turn found Gabriel Jesus.

The Brazil forward turned sharply, holding off Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip, before prodding the ball beyond Allison.

The goal marked a shift in momentum. City began to play with a swagger and were awarded a penalty in the 39th minute when Joe Gomez handled a De Bruyne cross, ref Craig Pawson making the decision after checking the pitchside VAR monitor.

De Bruyne seemed certain to dispatch the penalty to put City ahead, but dragged the ball wide, in a huge let-off for the visitors.

Both keepers called into action early on after the break, Allison cutting out a dangerous De Bruyne cross, while at the other end, Ederson saved smartly from Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota.

Jesus, unmarked and left with a free header, somehow managed to miss the target from Cancelo’s fine angled cross, wasting a chance to claim his second goal to win the game.

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Yet with both teams unable to maintain the frenetic speed of the game, there was an inevitable dip midway through the second-half, with both ultimately cancelling each other out.





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