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Manchester City v Liverpool

Advantage Man City, but could Guardiola rue missed chances in Liverpool thriller?

2:00 AM MYT 11/04/2022
Phil Foden Manchester City 2021-22
The defending champions could have snatched victory late on through Riyad Mahrez, but had to make do with a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium

Match statistics: Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool

On Sunday morning, Manchester City held the slenderest of leads at the top of the Premier League table.

And as heads hit pillows on Sunday evening, Manchester City will still hold the slenderest of leads at the top of the Premier League table.

But the defending champions might yet come to rue the chance they missed to kill the title race once and for all.

They remain a point clear of Liverpool at the summit of English football and it is not inconceivable that they will hold that advantage until the last day of the season.

But when Riyad Mahrez broke through deep in injury time, with only Alisson to beat, he had the chance to put a huge puncture in Liverpool's title hopes.

After twice coming back, there would have been no time and no third opportunity for Jurgen Klopp's side, but City's top scorer could only loop his effort over the bar, leaving one of the most thrilling title races in years to live on.

"It's a great chance," admitted Kevin De Bruyne to Sky Sports at full-time. "Riyad chose to chip and if it goes in it's a wonder goal.

"It was hard. To be fair I think we played excellent. The way we played was very good and we should score more. It is what it is. It was a great game.

"I think it should [be more before half-time] but we were still winning. The way the second half started is the disappointment. I think we played great and created enough chances to win the game."

What a way to stay exactly where they were at kick-off - a 90 minutes of breathless, brilliant football that is already an instant classic.

A match between the best two teams in England - for many the best in the world - and they delivered like they always do.

A clash where the tensions will have been felt around the planet, let alone in the electric atmosphere of the Etihad Stadium.

In the stands, they lived every second of it, just as they did in the dugouts.

One minute, Pep Guardiola was stood two yards on the pitch trying to get his message across to his players. The next he was discarding his jacket in frustration at letting Liverpool snatch an equaliser.

Jurgen Klopp was not much calmer to his right, punching the air with every tackle, turning in despair at every missed opportunity.

But the two managers have only themselves to blame. Only Guardiola and Klopp could go into a game with everything on the line and give everything for a victory.

Who else but Guardiola would leave Aymeric Laporte and Kyle Walker isolated against the twin threat of Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane in the opening minutes?

And who would trust a goalkeeper as ridiculously calm as Ederson to let the ball drift onto his own goal-line under pressure from Diogo Jota before playing a simple three-yard pass?

And, in turn, who would allow Thiago to play short square passes in his own six-yard box with five City attackers within striking distance?

And who would chase a win in the final minutes at the Etihad knowing a defeat could almost destroy their chances of winning the title?

From the opening minutes it was pulsating.

Gabriel Jesus, Guardiola's wildcard choice for this big game, setting up Raheem Sterling, but his shot was blocked by a sprawling Alisson.

But just seconds later, City were ahead. De Bruyne, always a player for the big occasion, was alert to Bernardo Silva's quickly-taken free kick before firing in a low shot that deflected off Joel Matip on its way past Alisson.

Forget about City taking their usual control, though. These two sides are too good to exceed that for too long.

Jota had levelled inside 13 minutes, before Jesus put the home side back ahead in the 36th minute with City creating the better chances.

It was more of the same in the second half, with Mane equalising inside a minute before both sides went toe-to-toe and punch-buy-punch until the very final seconds.

Guardiola and Klopp embraced enthusiastically at full-time, and the football world finally could draw breath.

A game that was so good that it would probably be worth doing all over again next week.

As luck would have it, these two meet at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. Another classic awaits!