Manchester City 2 – 2 Liverpool
1-0 Dzeko (23), 1-1 Sturridge (29), 1-2 Gerrard (73), 2-2 Aguero (78)
Many of the reports concerning this game will inevitably concentrate on the title race and the fact that after this, Manchester City are nine points behind The Mancs. Then they will look at our first goal, a so called controversial effort from Daniel Sturridge when the opposition were expecting us to put the ball out so that an “injured” Edin Dzeko could be treated. However, for Reds fans both incidents come well the list of significant points from this game.
Arguably this was our best performance of the season so far, no need for any excuses or tongue lashings this weekend Brendan! As if inspired by what might have been on Wednesday there was an increased purpose and growing confidence about everything we did. We passed it well, had a greater share of the possession, had more shots on target and really should have won the game. Sadly however, for all the good points there is still some way to go. On Wednesday it was reticent defending and poor decision making that allowed Arsenal back into the game yesterday it was just bad play and silly mistakes small, but significant, blots on an otherwise impressive copybook. In both games we couldn’t protect a lead but at least we can take encouragement from the fact that now appear capable of fashioning one out!
BR made just one change bringing in the now fit Jose Enrique for Andre Wisdom. Jamie Carragher kept his place ahead of Martin Skrtel a significant move that might prove crucial as we play out the rest of the season?
The start didn’t really suggest what was to come. Silva tested Reina early on from distance with the sort of effort that our keeper wouldn’t really want to deal with a barely a minute gone. Thankfully he was up to it and tipped the dipper over. Sadly Reina had no chance with City’s first goal a simple tap in from Dzeko, from Silva’s cross with Daniel Agger playing everyone on side, appealing in vain and then failing to deal with the cross.
Nonetheless we showed enough to suggest that City would have to work hard. Sturridge nearly got an immediate reply by getting in behind the back of Hart only to be thwarted by Zabaleta. He then tested the City defence further with a lively run which wasn’t matched by Suarez’s finish from the cut back.
Agger then started the incident with his foul on Dzeko. Perhaps we should have knocked it out however we passed it around for a considerable length of time before Sturridge scored which suggested to me that City had ample time to try and dispossess us and put it into the stands themselves? The goal, a bullet from Sturridge from outside the area, was greeted by catcalls from the home fans and then TV pictures of Dzeko STANDING, and then another of Dzeko STANDING and arguing with the referee, a miraculous recovery indeed! Proof enough that we were right to carry on, Dzeko also finished the game? Furthermore after the game Sturridge said we’d been told to continue.
“The referee told us to play on for my goal, we abide by what he says. We played on and scored, the City fans weren’t happy but we were just abiding by the words.”
The goal seemed to galvanise us although City seemed hell-bent on making things easy for us. Zabaleta and Hart had a communication breakdown (“It’s always the same”) that nearly lead to comical own goal. Sturridge was then booked for “diving” over Lescott’s tackle. When replayed we saw there was contact although surely not enough for our man to go down so theatrically? Nonetheless the move was indicative of the pressure we were subjecting City to and eventually this paid dividends. Clichy cleared Enrique’s cross but only as far as Gerrard. We’ve seen Gerrard smash home many an effort from distance however, it never tires. The trajectory of the ball started from above the goal and dipped so much that Hart was scrabbling on the deck as it arrowed unerringly into his bottom right hand corner.
Five minutes later City matched our effort after Jose Reina ventured too far out of his comfort zone and got a “nose bleed”. Augario took full advantage of his disorientation and knocked it home from an acute angle. What can you say but Jose, Jose, Jose!
In a repeat of Wednesday both sides had chances to win it. For us, Sturridge, who eclipsed Suarez today with his best performance in red shirt to date, giving Hart a real test from distance. However, although the yield in terms of points was the same, unlike Wednesday it was better feeling as we trudged off at the end? Onwards and maybe a little bit more upwards?
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Clichy, Nastasic (Kolarov – 56′ ), Milner, Garcia Booked, Barry (Nasri – 88′ ), Silva (Maicon – 74′ ), Dzeko Booked, Aguero Substitutes: Pantilimon, Maicon, Kolarov, Nasri, Sinclair, Rodwell, Tevez
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique (Skrtel – 75′ ), Agger, Carragher Booked, Gerrard Booked, Henderson Booked, Downing, Lucas, Suarez, Sturridge Booked (Allen – 90′ ), Substitutes: Jones, Skrtel, Wisdom, Allen, Sterling, Shelvey, Borini