Xenia Sports – London
Gabriel Jesus cancelled out a Mohamed Salah penalty but Kevin De Bruyne missed a spot-kick as heavyweights Manchester City and Liverpool played out an entertaining 1-1 draw.
The champions, fielding a four-man attack, took an early lead in a gripping Premier League contest at the Etihad Stadium when Salah struck after a foul by Kyle Walker on Sadio Mane.
City responded with a fine goal from fit-again Jesus but De Bruyne spurned the chance to put them ahead when he fired wide from 12 yards before the break.
Both sides had opportunities in the second half but neither could break through, meaning Liverpool dropped from first to third over the course of the weekend while City remained in mid-table.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp had made a bold call by fitting the in-form Diogo Jota into his side alongside the feared front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino, and gave them all equal licence to attack.
Playing in what appeared a 4-2-4 formation, the visitors went straight onto the front foot. They created a chance within the opening minute as Firmino raced in on goal from a long ball but Ederson just did enough to put him off.
That set the tempo for the opening stages and Liverpool were rewarded for their aggressive and positive start with a penalty after 13 minutes.
There were few complaints when Craig Pawson pointed to the spot after Walker – derided as “an idiot” after the challenge by TV pundit Roy Keane – clipped Mane. Salah made City pay the price by smashing home from the spot.
Another rapid Liverpool break led to Salah teeing up Mane in the box but Ruben Dias blocked.
City eventually began to settle and get De Bruyne on the ball. It was the Belgian who created their first chance when he picked out Raheem Sterling at the far post but the England forward, in cutting inside to shoot on his right foot, allowed Alisson Becker to make the save.
City levelled just before the half-hour mark as De Bruyne fed Jesus with his back to goal. The City striker, starting for the first time since September, beat Trent Alexander-Arnold with a clever flick and turn and then poked past Alisson.
De Bruyne drove wide from distance moments later and then had an even better chance to put City ahead when City were awarded a penalty before the break. After a lengthy VAR review that involved Pawson going to the monitor, Joe Gomez was adjudged to have handled as he tried to pull his arm away from a De Bruyne cross. Liverpool contested the decision but escaped damage as De Bruyne rolled his shot wide.
Liverpool almost took advantage of the miss to score themselves as Ederson allowed an Alexander-Arnold shot to squirm from his grasp and roll towards the line, but he grabbed at the second attempt as Jota swooped in.
The second half began at the same breathtaking pace with Andrew Robertson and De Bruyne having shots saved at either hand.
Jesus then had a glorious chance from a Joao Cancelo cross but put a free header wide.
Liverpool suffered a blow after the hour when Alexander-Arnold dropped to the ground injured. He was replaced by James Milner and he may now be doubtful for England next week.
Perhaps inevitably, the frenetic pace dropped in the latter stages and both sides had to settle for a point.