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Result: Liverpool 2-2 Man City
16.05 – Bad news for Liverpool already. Lucas has picked up an early knock, and so is replaced by Jonjo Shelvey.
Meanwhile, Man City are playing in a somewhat cautious, defensive manner, just as their lineup suggested they might.
16.10 – Balotelli escapes Skrtel and the Liverpool defender cynically brings him down. The Slovak international is fortunate Liverpool had cover in behind. Otherwise, he would have given the referee no choice but to send him off.
16.16 – Reina collects the ball and considers releasing it quickly to launch a counter attack.
But the goalkeeper decides against playing it out immediately given the lack of obvious options in front of him – a moment that epitomises the level of caution that has characterised this game so far.
16.22 – Best chance of the match so far falls to Liverpool – Borini makes an intelligent run across the defender and meets the inch-perfect cross on the volley, but unfortunately for the hosts, it narrowly goes the wrong side of the post.
Shortly thereafter, Tevez is played through and hits the inside of the post from what seemed like an impossible angle, and Mancini will be disappointed by the lack of City attackers in the box to follow up the rebound.
Both sides will now feel they should be in front.
16.33 – Any question marks over Toure starting ahead of Lescott have seemingly been put to rest, as the Ivory Coast defender twice does extremely well to stop dangerous-looking Liverpool attacks, the first of which is a John Terry-style heroic block to prevent Borini’s shot from testing the goalkeeper.
Down the other end, Balotelli blasts it well over, when he probably would have been better off passing, as it would have had to have been a wonder strike to beat Reina.
17.01 – So it’s half-time and at the moment, Man City’s poor away record against Liverpool looks like continuing.
The hosts have performed quite well, especially considering the early loss of Lucas and the fact that they’ve an inexperienced 17-year-old in their side.
Man City, on the other hand, have hardly played like champions, despite Tevez occasionally looking a threat. They have almost seemed overly cautious in their approach, perhaps owing to the fear that their consistently poor record at Anfield has instilled in them.
Moreover, sceptics of the zonal marking system will say that it cost the visitors the first goal – Skrtel had a run on his leaden-footed marker, thus giving the City defender little chance of stopping him.
Also, fun fact: according to Sky, all 24 of Joe Allen’s passes in that first-half were accurate.
17.19 – City are looking decidedly shaky at the moment. An attempted clearance from defence ricochets off Balotelli, but fortunately for Mancini’s men, there are no Liverpool attackers on hand to capitalise on this error.
Meanwhile, as if City weren’t defensive enough already, Nasri has now been taken off and is replaced by Jack Rodwell.
17.35 – Controversial, as Sterling goes down under the challenge of Kolarov inside the box, but the ref waves play on.
It was by no means a clear-cut penalty, but it was the type of challenge that’s nearly always penalised when it happens outside the box.
Meanwhile, David Silva has come on, as City attempt to salvage something from this game.
18.07 – So at full-time, Liverpool will be ruing the two defensive mishaps that cost them dearly in what was an otherwise more-than-decent performance against the reigning Premier League champions.
City, meanwhile, will count themselves lucky to escape with a point, as they rarely took the initiative during the game and only seemed to fully come to life on the occasions that they went a goal behind.
On the whole though, both teams surely won’t be too dismayed with the outcome. City will be relieved to have secured a point that some critics may claim they didn’t deserve.
Similarly, Liverpool will be happy to have delivered a sterling performance (pardon the pun) against the Premier League champions, especially given they very much appear to be a team in transition at the moment.
In addition, speaking to Sky, Joe Allen says his team’s feelings after the game are ‘bittersweet,’ given that their much-improved performance failed to result in a win.
18.21 – Roberto Mancini describes the pitch as “very difficult” and says his side played “very well”.
He argues that the free kick for Liverpool’s second goal shouldn’t have been given, and adds that City need to “work really hard” to secure players ahead of the transfer window’s closure at the end of the week.
18.25 – Sky’s Jamie Redknapp says Mancini’s decision to play three at the back “doesn’t make sense,” given that they won the league with a different system last year.
18.31 – Brendan Rodgers tells Sky that it was “a brilliant performance” from Liverpool and adds that “sometimes the best team doesn’t win”.
He says there’s “no blame” on Martin Skrtel for the second goal and lauds him for being “brave enough” to play the pass in the first place.
He explains that “tactically, we were very good,” and describes Joe Allen as “outstanding” and Raheem Sterling as “phenomenal”.
Rodgers claims that the squad is “a wee bit shallow” at the moment and suggests they will add to it before the transfer window closes.
18.34 – Alright, that’s it from me for this evening.
Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting on what has been a fantastic game to watch.