Liverpool's thrilling draw with Manchester City means title race will go down to wire

Mac Allister penalty earns a point for Jurgen Klopp's men as Arsenal stay top of Premier League

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Alexis Mac Allister’s penalty earned Liverpool a dramatic 1-1 draw against Manchester City that left the destiny of the Premier League still very much up in the air.

A point apiece means Arsenal remain top of the table on goal difference from Jurgen Klopp’s side but they have to go to the Etihad Stadium in three weeks with the gap to City currently only a point.

Argentina midfielder Mac Allister struck from the spot to cancel out John Stones’ first Premier League goal since April.

In reality this game was never likely to point to the eventual champions but what it did serve up was a reminder that these two teams remain the top-flight’s standard bearers.

Whether that will remain the same after Klopp’s departure in the summer remains to be seen but Pep Guardiola has still not won at Anfield in front of fans.

Nevertheless he left the happier of the two managers after enduring significant second-half pressure.

Guardiola may consider himself fortunate as in the final seconds VAR ruled Jeremy Doku’s chest-high challenge on Mac Allister did not warrant a second spot-kick.

Klopp will be satisfied with a point but will know it was perhaps a missed opportunity.

The first half could be divided into thirds, with City holding the initiative in the first and last but not pressing home their advantage.

Kevin De Bruyne’s early shot was parried by Caoimhin Kelleher before momentum switched with youngster Conor Bradley turning Nathan Ake before curling a low cross that just evaded Darwin Nunez, whose tumbling header then dropped wide before he was flagged offside after squaring for Luis Diaz to tap into an empty net.

City opened the scoring with a move straight off the training ground.

De Bruyne’s clever, low corner was driven into the near post to be turned home by Stones after Ake had cleared the space by manoeuvring Mac Allister out of the way.

Guardiola turned to point to set-piece coach Carlos Vicens for the input he had in the game.

The one-to-one everyone was looking forward to pitched a charging Erling Haaland against a backtracking Virgil van Dijk after a misjudgement by Jarell Quansah but the experienced Dutch international jockeyed the striker on to his left foot and Kelleher saved comfortably.

Van Dijk was imperious throughout, subduing Haaland, and even deep into second-half added time he was still winning challenges as he dispossessed Phil Foden as he threatened to break.

Liverpool were far from cowed by City’s control and better finishing from Dominik Szoboszlai, with a flying header, and Luis Diaz could have put them level at the break.

But it took them just two minutes of the second half to equalise as Ake left his backpass short and Nunez nipped in to nick it past Ederson, who sent the Uruguay striker flying.

For the second time in four days Mac Allister was nerveless from the spot and the punishment was doubled for City when Ederson was forced off with injury.

That was the signal for Liverpool to seize the momentum but Diaz’s touch from Nunez’s return pass was terrible and he lost possession with only Ederson’s replacement Stefan Ortega to beat.

Mohammed Salah made his arrival on the hour and sliced open City’s defence with a magnificent pass only for Diaz to balloon wide.

The Colombia forward’s afternoon did not get any better when he was robbed by Kyle Walker as he prepared to pull the trigger eight yards out.

Salah and Mac Allister both had attempts and, with no sign of the red tide easing, Guardiola sent on Mateo Kovacic for De Bruyne.

Ortega’s brilliant close-range block denied Nunez before Kelleher punched an Ake cross into Foden, with the ball rebounding on to the crossbar, although replays showed it had come off the forward’s arm.

Doku hit the post in the 89th minute, Salah ran down the other end to shoot straight at Ortega before VAR had the final, contentious, say.

Klopp, who spoke to referee Michael Oliver at the end of the game, told Sky Sports afterwards that his side should have been awarded a penalty for Doku’s challenge on Mac Allister.

“This was 100 per cent a foul and a yellow card. Because he hit the ball but he only hit the ball because his foot was high. It’s a penalty for all football people on the planet,” said Klopp.

But he added: "The second half was the best we ever played against Manchester City, definitely.

"They hit the post, of course, but we should have scored two or three goals. Exceptional football game. Wow!

"We were outstanding. The mother of all results is the performance. The good things we have to keep doing."

City boss Guardiola, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: "Good moments from both sides. We started really well. We have to never ever forget when we play in this stadium otherwise we don't have a chance, knowing it will be so difficult.

"A lot of credit to Liverpool. They proved again what they have done is unbelievable for this rivalry. I know how difficult it is to come here and win. The players gave everything. I give credit to the opponents and take the point..

Liverpool captain Van Dijk told Sky Sports: "Second half was obviously much better than 15-20 minutes in the first half. We should have closed the middle a bit better but we reacted well. We had very good chances, unfortunately we couldn't get the winner but overall bittersweet.

"Based on the second half you feel we should have won it, but they hit the post as well. It was so close."

City goalscorer Stones, said: "We created quite a lot of chances early on in the game and probably could have taken them and been two or three up but that is football.

"We feel a bit deflated in the dressing room. We came here to win, but this is such a difficult place to come.

"I think the second half was more them than us and it kind of balanced out. We'll take the point."

Updated: March 10, 2024, 7:15 PM