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Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2017

Manchester City and Liverpool shared the spoils during Sunday’s Premier League action, as the two teams served up a thrilling encounter that ended in a 1-1 draw.

James Milner gave the visitors the lead with a controversial penalty early in the second half, after City had a spot-kick of their own turned down before the break.

Sergio Aguero tied things up with 20 minutes left to play, and despite several great late chances, neither team could find a winner.

Per City’s official Twitter account, the hosts kept Bacary Sagna on the bench:


Liverpool opted for Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Philippe Coutinho in attack, leaving Divock Origi with a spot on the bench:


From the opening minute, tackles were flying, with both teams taking advantage of the slick playing surface at the Etihad Stadium. Nicolas Otamendi took out Mane early, and the Argentinian could have been booked.

Emre Can should have seen yellow for a blatant foul on Kevin De Bruyne, but somehow, he escaped a booking. Firmino wasn’t so lucky after 16 minutes, however, as he was punished for a foul on David Silva.

The Spaniard fired a great chance wide before Yaya Toure joined Firmino in the referee’s notes for a dreadful tackle on Can. Nick Akerman of Bleacher Report UK predicted bad things for the Ivorian:


Mane wanted a penalty shortly after, but referee Michael Oliver didn’t see enough in the tackle from Otamendi to warrant a foul.

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on March 19, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCAR

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The Citizens took more and more control as the half wore on, with Leroy Sane and Nathaniel Clyne serving up a duel for the ages. The number of chances increased dramatically toward the end of the half, with both Simon Mignolet and Willy Caballero kept busy.

Joel Matip headed wide before Raheem Sterling missed a huge chance, as Silva played the winger in perfectly and Milner intervened in the nick of time. Pundits were unsure whether the former City star fouled Sterling, however, per James Robson of the Manchester Evening News:


Caballero denied Firmino and kept Adam Lallana from scoring shortly after, and Matip ended the half with a rash tackle on Aguero that was rightly punished with another yellow card.

BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty didn’t understand how the score was still 0-0 at half-time:


The second half started with more physical play, and after just four minutes, Gael Clichy brought down Firmino inside the box, handing the Reds a penalty. Silva was also booked for protesting.

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News thought it was a horrible decision from the official to award the penalty:


Milner stayed calm and slotted the ball home, giving Liverpool the lead. Per Bleacher Report UK’s Sam Tighe, it was a brilliant strike:


John Stones almost hit back immediately, heading wide from a promising position. Liverpool were the better team in the wake of the goal, however, controlling the tempo with slick passing.

Toure struggled to keep up in midfield, and his defensive weaknesses were exposed by Liverpool’s constant movement. Caballero only just managed to deny the Reds a second goal on one of those occasions, with Firmino diving in behind his marker.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool competes with Leroy Sane of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on March 19, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Matthew A

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But just as Liverpool seemed in total control, City struck. De Bruyne, playing from a wide position, fired a perfect cross into the box for Aguero, who pushed the ball home.

Per WhoScored.com, the Belgian has been an elite provider this season:


Klopp introduced Origi in favour of Coutinho, who once again didn’t enjoy a great outing, and both teams pushed for a late winner. De Bruyne went very close, hitting the post after a one-two between Aguero and Silva. 

Lallana missed an even better chance, losing sight of the ball for a second and missing a sitter. Ryan Bailey of Yahoo Sports weighed in:


Mane ran into a late booking for a foul on Silva that seemed the result of tired legs, illustrating the physical battle that took place at the Etihad. Aguero went closest to finding a winner, blasting over from close range before Oliver brought an end to a great match of football.

City will face Arsenal after the international break, while Liverpool host Everton.



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