Match Review: Liverpool 1 – 1 Man City

LFC Fans gathered to watch Liverpool FC at Toronto Pub
  • full house at LFC Toronto pub, watching Liverpool v Man City

Match Review: Liverpool 1 - 1 Man City

Who thought Liverpool were in for a difficult afternoon? Or even that the game was over when Man City opened the score in the 23rd minute?

I'm sure most of us did not envisage that either of those scenarios would unfold after what we had been served by this Liverpool side this season. It was a feeling of here we go again with the Reds having to come back and turn this around, as they had already done so on numerous occasions this season.

Never mind that this was against the current English and European champions. Instead, we banked on the Mentality Monsters to eventually show up at the Anfield cauldron, which created a "tsunami" of noise and support, according to Pep.

The lads' fighting spirit did turn up as the Redmen demonstrated their mettle, especially during the second half - relentlessly going at the visitors in this action-packed encounter that showcased the best of what the EPL can offer.

After equalizing in the 49th minute Liverpool came up just short, despite throwing the kitchen sink at the visitors, who had practically no response the onslaught.

There were several opportunities to win the game, especially with chances from Luis Diaz or a penalty that should have been given for Jeremy Doku high boot on Alexis Mac Allister shortly before the final whistle.

The disappointment of missing out on three points is offset by the joy of the performance the Redmen mustered up during what was probably their best second half of the season. With Arsenal’s victory on Saturday vaulted the Gunners to the top of the league table. So, there was an additional motivation for winning this one.

Even Jurgen Klopp enthused that he saw everything he always expects from his players during that period.

His signature relentless pressing was evident, especially from the now maestro sweeper, Wataru Endo. This meant the Reds were in complete control of the second-half proceedings, intensely crafting chances that should have sealed the 3 points.

This big clash between the top two clubs at the start of the week probably had the most exciting match build-up of the season.

The still-busy treatment room at the AXA Training Centre added to the intrigue. Thankfully, there is full confidence in Academy products Connor Bradley and Jarell Quansah, whose names in the starting lineup of the biggest league game of the season looked like the most natural thing in the world.

No round of observation at all

Kicking off the match with a challenge from Arsenal and a point apart from each other, it was not surprising that both sides got off to a frantic pace with all guns blazing.

Man City had the edge at the start with Caoimhin Kelleher blocking a Julian Alvarez shot from their left in the 3rd minute.

Kevin De Bruyne had two chances in succession in the 8th minute but his attempts were just wide and blocked by Kelleher.

Liverpool took a quarter of an hour to get going.

On the right wing, Conor Bradley turned Nathan Aké inside out and his cross was narrowly missed by Darwin Nunez. The Uruguayan was again at the receiving end, this time with a Diaz cross in the 16th minute. However, he could not adjust his position to properly head the ball goalward.

In the 19th, Nunez returned the compliment with a pass to release Diaz who put the ball at the back of the net. However, our Number 9 was disappointingly offside in the build-up of the action.

Four minutes later, City opened the scoring from a corner by De Bruyne. Aké pushed Alexis Mac Allister away from the near post, clearing the way for the ball to reach John Stones who then simply swept it in.

A sloppily defended corner some would say. Nonetheless, it poked Liverpool’s resolve into switching gears with Dominik Szoboszlai leading the charge in driving the Reds charges for the rest of the first half.

The Hungarian glanced a free header in the 31st minute which flew just above from a Harvey Elliot cross that was similar to the assist to Nunez’s winner at Nottingham Forest last weekend.

Just before half-time, a driving run from Szoboszlai released Diaz on the left, and after evading the attention of 2 City players, the Columbian unleashed a fierce shot from the edge of the box that ended narrowly wide.

Undeterred, the Hungarian even had a go right before half-time with an audacious 40-yard free kick which was comfortably gathered by Ederson.

The stats showed Liverpool with zero shots on target at the interval and 6 shots during the second half. But with the number of chances created, it was far from a game of two halves for the Redmen.

Dominating the champions

Liverpool still managed to have the bigger upper hand after the restart.

They took only 90 seconds to earn a penalty as a free Darwin Nunez down the right was sent flying into the air by a mistimed kick by Ederson who copped a yellow and an injury to his right thigh for all his troubles. He was replaced by Stefan Ortega ten minutes later.

Despite the long wait for taking the spot kick while the Brazilian keeper was receiving treatment, Alexis Mac Allister emphatically despatched the ball into the top left corner.

Sensing blood, Liverpool went for the jugular and it was high time to introduce the Egyptian King in the 61st minute.

Mo Salah’s impact was almost instantaneous as he took only one minute to feed a diagonal ball to Luis Diaz for a one-on-one with Ortega.

With more composure, Diaz’s lob over the keeper should have ended at the back of the net instead of narrowly wide. This should have been the match-winning moment. Still, that was not the end of the Colombian’s busy afternoon. He had another gilt-edge opportunity 2 minutes later.

In the 82nd minute, Lucho cranked up the volume of the Anfield crowd with a mazy run down the left wing which made a mockery of the close attentions of Walker and Rodri. But his cutback to Cody Gakpo was blocked by the England defender for another corner.

Perhaps to add some legitimacy to the draw, Doku hit the post in the 89th minute and the rebound went directly into Kelleher’s arms.

That was probably the only realistic attempt on target by Man City during the second half, which saw the Reds dictate the run of play.

A Liverpool side - missing a good number of its established regulars - had clear dominance on the incumbent champions.

The team's exhilarating performance during the second half may explain the buoyant mood of Klopp post-match.

Despite the glass being half-empty for some, deep inside the German knows very well if the Reds continue to play like this, they have every chance to be in the mix until the very end. And that starts with Man City taking on Arsenal next week. If the Londoners don’t win and Liverpool do so against Brighton, the leadership of the Premier League table will change again.

Last week, we said that this three-horse race is likely becoming a game of who blinks first. This season is not over yet. Every game is a must-watch game.

See you in the pub.

Mike Chung.