Man City 1-1 Liverpool Five Things: entertainment

Firmino takes on Fernandinho and Sterling –

In a game packed with chances and goal-mouth action, it is hard to believe that it finished with only two goals. They came when James Milner converted a second half penalty and Sergio Aguero responded late on – but what have we learnt from the game?

City’s early pressing

Manchester City have often been criticized of being too passive upon losing possession, but Pep’s pressing ideology had seeped into their first half performance. New-found aggression granted them a strong grip on the midfield, from which they attacked the wide areas at pace. Raheem Sterling’s early deliveries forced desperate clearances from Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip, before the winger combined with Leroy Sane on the break. The German’s 20th minute shot was saved before David Silva, who also looked more disciplined than previous seasons, fired over.

Liverpool’s sporadic moments

Liverpool showed flashes of danger in the first half. The speedy Sadio Mane latched onto John Stones’ poor back-pass and beat a sluggish Nicolas Otamendi but was smothered by Willy Caballero. Mane won free-kicks that Philippe Coutinho executed poorly, but the Brazilian curled wide on 34 minutes after combining with compatriot Roberto Firmino for the first time.

Liverpool’s let-off

Those moments for Liverpool were isolated in a first half consisting largely of City pressure. The hosts came closest when Kevin De Bruyne played through Sane who squared it but neither Sterling nor Fernandinho could convert under pressure. Liverpool used their slice of luck as a springboard for an improved end to the first half, which saw Firmino and Lallana come close, and a positive start to the second.

Clichy’s error

Gael Clichy slipped at a bad time so when Emre Can played a clever ball to the forward over the top, he panicked and brought down recipient Firmino. Against his old club, Milner converted the spot-kick to give Liverpool the lead during their best spell of the game. Looking compact after the goal, they could have got a second one the break but Firmino was denied one-on-one by Willy Caballero.

City’s late pressure

Guardiola’s switches benefited City. Starting right-back Fernandinho moved to a more central role, offering more energy than the departing Yaya Toure, who was replaced by Bacary Sagna. De Bruyne was excellent after moving to the right wing and his superb delivery led to the 68th minute equalizer, Aguero touching home from close-range. He and De Bruyne combined on two more occasions, the former losing his footing before the latter struck the post, before Aguero uncharacteristically fired over another great cross from his Belgian teammate. Liverpool themselves missed a sitter through Lallana after Firmino’s pull-back, but a draw was a fair outcome from an enthralling game.