GOOD OLD fashioned entertainment, that’s what Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City was all about. Two of the three best sides in the Premier League slugged it out for 90 pulsating minutes, there were some excellent goals, an intense atmosphere and, in the end, a fair result – for both teams and for Chelsea, who remained top of the league.
City have a good enough squad to win almost anything, but they didn’t get the striker they wanted in the close season and although their ranks are full of talented midfield players, they do not have the goal machine they coveted. You could argue that a team coached by Pep Guardiola doesn’t really need a Kane, Lukaku or Salah, but on the evidence of this game, the result may have been different if they had a front-man who scores goals for fun – perhaps someone like Liverpool’s 1960s hero Roger Hunt, whose passing was marked with a respectful and emotional round of applause.
Liverpool went into the game still unbeaten, while City had conceded just one goal in their six league fixtures, that solitary effort on the opening day when they lost to Tottenham. Liverpool seem to have returned close to their 2018-2020 peaks while City still have question marks against them after their miscalculation in the UEFA Champions League final against Chelsea. They lost their recent Champions League group game in Paris, but they’re bound to qualify for the knockout stage.
It was a proverbial game of two halves, with City the more impressive outfit in the first 45. Bernardo Silva impressed with his dainty footwork and Phil Foden gradually came into the action and showed why he’s seen as one of the great young hopes for the English game. City should have gone in at the interval a goal to the good, but they were very generous to their hosts.
In the second period, it was a different story as Liverpool found their flow. Mo Salah was outstanding in this half and created the opening goal from Sadio Mané, slipping the ball into his path and allowing him to shoot low past Ederson. Ten minutes later, in the 68th minute, Foden produced a neat left-foot finish from a narrow angle to level the scores.
Liverpool’s James Milner was fortunate to stay on the pitch after a rough challenge, which prompted Guardiola to lose his composure, stripping off his jacket as if to prepare himself for armed combat. Naturally, this earned him plenty of abuse from the stands, along with former Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling, who some years after leaving Anfield certainly walks alone when he returns to the club.
Liverpool restored their lead in the 75th minute when Salah produced a remarkable run, twisting and turning past defenders, before calmly scoring. The pundits described it as “a goal from a different planet”. Let’s just say it was very good.
Unlike some of their recent trips to Liverpool, City didn’t collapse but scored another excellent goal, Kevin De Bruyne, who looked slightly below his best throughout, finishing after more good work by Foden. This second equaliser sent Guardiola into a frenzy as he celebrated what he would have seen as justice after the Milner incident.
Both sides could have won it, Fabinho thwarted by a block from Rodri, who came out of nowhere, and Jesus denied in similar fashion. It was all hugs and beaming white teeth at the end and Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp must have been relieved they came out of this titanic clash relatively unscathed. Just think what City might have done if they had bought a blue-chip forward in the summer!