Last night was that time of the year, when the top two teams in the land locked horns yet again, albeit for the first time in the new Premier League season.
As one would know, whenever Manchester City and Liverpool play, it is a contest for the ages as truth be told, these two teams are head and shoulders above others in the Premier League.
Liverpool came into this contest on the back of five consecutive victories in all competitions, with their latest causality being Serie A side Atlanta, who were decimated 5-0 in Italy in in the Champions League.
Manchester City, who beat Greek outfit Olympiacos 3-0 in the same European competition in their last outing, were not in bad form either, winning their previous three encounters.
So, with both teams on a roll, anything but an empty performance was expected amid only an empty Etihad still reeling with no spectators, thanks to COVID 19.
Without further ado, let’s dig into how this contest between two Premier League title contenders unfolded.
#3 A pulsating game of football in the first half
When two teams with supreme pedigree battle it out, the game is ought to be an entertainment feast and that’s exactly how the first half started when Sadio Mane was tripped inside the box by Manchester City defender Kyle Walker, with Liverpool earning a penalty in the 11th minute.
Mohamed Salah converted the spot-kick by hitting it to the left of the diving Ederson, who couldn’t even touch the ball.
Truth be told, such is Salah’s track-record in converting penalties that there could be a higher chance of seeing China becoming a democracy than the Egyptian missing a spot-kick.
Manchester City were up for the challenge and drew level in the 31st minute through a sheer act of brilliance by Gabriel Jesus, who hit the back of the net with a smart turn and a great finish.
The game stood at one apiece.
The Citizens were then awarded a penalty but the hosts couldn’t make it count as Kevin De Bruyne missed from the spot.
This was after Liverpool defender Joe Gomez was found guilty of a hand-ball through an on-field VAR decision.
Liverpool were more than lucky to be on level terms as the first half drew to a close.
#2 Both goalkeepers brought their A-game
When one half of a game has two penalties on either end, it’s quite evident that the goalkeepers have been busy.
The two Brazilian custodians – Liverpool’s Alisson and Manchester City’s Ederson – were definitely not made to have it easy with the strikers in both teams constantly keeping them on their toes.
Alisson had to make a big save to deny Raheem Sterling when Liverpool were a goal up but unfortunately, Gabriel Jesus scored past him minutes later.
Kevin De Bruyne also kept Alisson busy with two shots, including a penalty, albeit both being off-target.
At the other end, although Ederson couldn’t keep out Mohamed Salah’s penalty, he did make an excellent save from a Trent Alexander-Arnold shot in the closing moments of the first half.
The Brazilian then quickly collected the ball to deny a rampaging Diogo Jota from scoring when the ball ricochet off his hands.
At the start of the second half, Ederson made another good save, this time denying Andy Robertson’s shot.
The two goalkeepers certainly lived up to their supreme reputation at the Etihad.
#3 Second half fizzled out much like a candle in the wind
Although there were a few chances created in the second half, both teams seemed to play a more measured brand of football after the break as compared to the first 45 minutes.
Truth be told, in my humble opinion, both teams were too scared to lose the game and with that mind-set, did not attack nearly as enough as they did in the first half.
Even for a neutral, a high octane first half just fizzled out like a candle in the wind as the curtains drew on the game.
The Reds suffered another injury set-back when Trent Alexander-Arnold was forced to leave the field after picking up an injury in the 63rd minute.
He would miss the next set of matches for England in the Nations League and his return date for Liverpool is also unknown as he presently provides company to the already-injured Reds stars Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara.
After the international break, Liverpool will face current Premier League leaders Leicester City, while Manchester City will be up against second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
As a loyal Liverpool supporter, I wouldn’t call this 1-1 draw a jolt, but come the game against the Foxes at Anfield, it will be our time to outfox them.
And in accomplishing this, from us Kopites ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.