Guardiola rages despite cruel deflection cancelling out Salah magic in pulsating Liverpool, Man City draw

Liverpool midfielder James Milner battling Man City forward Phil Foden 2021

The non-awarding of a red card had Pep Guardiola raging despite a deflected Kevin de Bruyne shot earning Man City a 2-2 draw with Liverpool.

Liverpool made a typically fast start and attempted to pile the pressure on Man City’s vaunted back-line. But after their initial burst failed to produce a breakthrough, both sides quickly settled into a more subdued rhythm with the emphasis on retaining possession.

The game’s first real chance came in the 20th minute following a mesmeric run from Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese playmaker weaved in and out of Liverpool defenders, leaving Virgil van Dijk stumbling and struggling to stay on his feet.

Silva fed Phil Foden in behind James Milner, but Alisson was out quick to smother the Englishman’s strike.

The hosts looked sluggish in both mind and execution as Man City began to probe at Liverpool’s defence. Jurgen Klopp sensed his side weren’t hitting their straps and was seen audibly calling for his players to be brave on the ball.

Liverpool survived a scare when Foden took a tumble under the challenge of Milner. Replays were inconclusive as to whether the contact was inside the box, or even whether it was strong enough to warrant penalising. Ultimately, the referee waved away Foden’s full-throated appeals.

Foden was again at the heart of the action moments later when fizzing an inch-perfect cross to Kevin de Bruyne at the far post. The Belgian stooped too soon when going with his head, however, ballooning his effort harmlessly over the bar.

Deputy right-back James Milner was enduring a torrid afternoon and drew a yellow card for his troubles. But despite City’s dominance, the two sides went into the break level at 0-0.

Diogo Jota looked alive after the break and was found in dangerous positions twice. Indecision scuppered his first chance before the strong wrists of Ederson beat away his shot on the second attempt.

Liverpool looked more assured on the ball and exploded into life with the opening goal in the 59th minute.

Mohamed Salah left Joao Cancelo in his dust before providing a perfect through ball for Sadio Mane. The frontman’s finishing has been suspect at times this season, but he made no mistake here, slotting the ball beyond Ederson to make it 1-0.

Pep Guardiola responded by calling upon Raheem Sterling to replace Jack Grealish, but it was Foden who hauled his side back on level terms.

Gabriel Jesus drove in field from the right before feeding Foden inside the area down the left. The England international kept his composure when rifling a low strike inside the far post to make it 1-1.

Foden was causing Liverpool problems again moments later when dribbling at the previously booked Milner in full flow. A lazy leg felled Foden, though a second yellow was not forthcoming, much to Pep Guardiola’s visible frustration.

If Guardiola was enraged about what he’d just seen, his mood was about to sour even further.

Salah received the ball in a seemingly benign position out wide. Twisting his way past Silva then turning Aymeric Laporte inside out, Salah dribbled into the box before putting Liverpool back in front with an accurate right-footed strike. For his vigorous protestation, Guardiola was booked.

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, when a Kevin De Bruyne shot beat Alisson after taking a vital deflection off Joel Matip along the way.

The unlikely figure of Fabinho was handed a golden opportunity to put his side in front late on when Ederson flapped at a free-kick. With the goal gaping, Fabinho dawdled to allow Rodri to make a vital last-gasp block.

Both sides had late half-chances to win it, but in the end, were made to settle for a hard-fought 2-2 draw.

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