Liverpool maintain the pressure on Man City in epic Premier League title race
Daily Courier – Liverpool came from behind twice in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium that leaves the Premier League title race still on a knife-edge.
Amid a raucous atmosphere in a game that had been billed as a title decider, Kevin De Bruyne and Diogo Jota traded goals early on before Gabriel Jesus restored City’s lead.
But Sadio Mane found a second equaliser for Liverpool early in the second half and though both teams pushed for the winner, it is as you were in the title race – City ahead by a point.
Raheem Sterling had spurned a clear chance even before De Bruyne’s shot deflected off Joel Matip and into the corner in the sixth minute, as the game came alive from the kick-off.
Pep Guardiola’s side were the dominant force throughout the first half, playing with great intensity, but the quality of Jurgen Klopp’s side ensured there was always danger.
Jota’s goal made that clear, laid into his path beautifully by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cushioned volley. It silenced the home support – but not for too long.
City’s side seemed built to harry and press, the inclusion of Jesus in a Premier League starting line-up for the first time since New Year’s Day summing up the plan.
And Guardiola’s decision was vindicated when the Brazilian was on the end of Joao Cancelo’s angled ball into the penalty box to divert his shot beyond Alisson.
Pep Guardiola made three changes from the midweek clash with Atletico Madrid. Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker returned with Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan dropping out.
Jurgen Klopp also made three changes from midweek against Benfica and decided to go with Diogo Jota through the middle with Luis Diaz on the bench. Joel Matip returned to partner Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson replaced Naby Keita.
The goalkeepers were prominent in the game, making saves and making mistakes. Alisson invited pressure with his casual passing. Ederson almost put the ball into his own net.
It was City who went into the interval ahead but the lead did not last long, Mohamed Salah setting up Sadio Mane to level things up within moments of the restart.
On the face of it, Manchester City are in control of the title race in a clearer way than they were before kick-off: Liverpool winning every remaining game might no longer be enough. But they played so well at the Etihad Stadium that there were chances to extend the lead.
Pep Guardiola says his Manchester City side missed an opportunity to take all three points in their 2-2 draw with Liverpool
“It was a good game. I will have to review the game but I have a feeling we missed an opportunity. A feeling that we left them alive.
“Heads up, I said to the team after the game, I don’t want one second of sadness. It was a good game for our fans, Liverpool fans, fans in the UK and around the world. We dignified the Premier League.
“We created a lot against them, except for maybe the last final action. It was an incredible performance, I am so proud of my team.
“We know now that we have to win every game.
“It will be difficult but it will be difficult for them too.”
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City was ‘like a boxing fight’
“Nothing changed, really. You play 95 minutes of incredibly intense football and nothing changed.
“If we win today, we are two points up, that changes nothing. We have to be nearly perfect to beat this team in a game and over a season too.”
Asked further on whether he agreed that his team would now have to win every single remaining game to lift the Premier League title, Klopp agreed.
“I think that is probably right. We knew it in January. We had to win 18 games. If there was one we could draw it was today.
“We have to be pretty much as close to perfection as possible to win seven Premier League games which is insane but that is the only way to beat this team. If it is enough.
“Because they might win seven as well.”