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Key talking points as Reds and City play out thrilling draw
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Matthew Hill
Alexis Mac Allister's penalty earned Liverpool a precious point
Alexis Mac Allister's penalty earned Liverpool a precious point

Liverpool and Manchester City played out a pulsating 1-1 draw at Anfield which leaves the Premier League title race more delicately poised than ever.

John Stones' first-half strike was cancelled out by an Alexis Mac Allister penalty early after the break, leaving Arsenal to finish the weekend on top spot by virtue of goal difference.

We round up the key talking points from another epic encounter between two old foes.

Right on De money

Just as Liverpool appeared to have weathered an early storm, they fell behind thanks to an ingenious corner routine from City.

Kevin De Bruyne — so often the man who unlocks the door in the champions' time of need — expertly drilled a low delivery into the front post, where Stones appeared unmarked to nudge home his first league goal of the season.

It was a routine that had clearly required significant rehearsing, with Pep Guardiola immediately pointing to his set-piece coach Carlos Vicens on the visiting bench.

Even by his own high standards, De Bruyne's impact since returning from injury has been sublime.

No Premier League player can better the Belgian's 13 goal involvements (two goals, 11 assists) across all competitions so far in 2024.

Moment of madness

Having seen things through to half-time with a minimum of fuss, City shot themselves in the foot spectacularly two minutes into the second period.

The usually dependable Nathan Ake's tame backpass was easily intercepted by Darwin Nunez, who was then cynically hacked down by Ederson for the most blatant of penalties.

Ederson had a moment to forget when bringing down Darwin Nunez
Ederson had a moment to forget when bringing down Darwin Nunez

Alexis Mac Allister, deputizing on penalty duty while Mohamed Salah remained on the bench, had three minutes to wait while the Brazilian stopper received medical treatment.

Yet the pause did nothing to deter the Argentine, who lashed home his 10th spot-kick in English football (from 11 attempts) to level proceedings.

Wasteful Reds

The equaliser was enough to spark a raucous Anfield crowd into life and in the 15 minutes that followed, Liverpool should have put the game to bed.

With the talismanic Salah thrown into the action by Jurgen Klopp, City's defence was suddenly being breached at will with Luis Diaz spurning a trio of gilt-edged opportunities.

Stefan Ortega, replacing the injured Ederson in the away goal, was on hand to beat away several long range strikes as his team-mates wobbled under immense Reds pressure.

The biggest indication of Liverpool's dominance was Guardiola's decision to withdraw De Bruyne, much to the disbelief of the man himself.

Kevin De Bruyne had words with the Manchester City bench after being subbed off
Kevin De Bruyne had words with the Manchester City bench after being subbed off

What could have been

Historically, clashes between these two clubs have produced explosive endings and either side could have easily snatched all three points in the dying minutes.

With the clock ticking into the 90th minute, the electric Jeremy Doku cut inside from the left flank and drilled a low strike beyond Caoimhin Kelleher in the Liverpool goal — only for the inside of the post to come to the Reds' rescue.

Then, with what was virtually the contest's final passage of play, Doku could easily have turned to villain when his desperate acrobatic clearance was referred for a VAR check.

Klopp and Co may well have felt aggrieved that no further action was taken given replays appeared to show his high foot catching Mac Allister's chest, with Gary Neville labelling the City winger a "lucky boy" on commentary.


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