MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne missed a potentially match-winning penalty as Pep Guardiola’s side were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.
Both goals, a Mohamed Salah spot-kick for Liverpool and a fine turn and finish from Gabriel Jesus for City, and the missed penalty came in a pulsating opening 45 minutes in which the last two league champions produced some exciting football.
Yet the quality and entertainment faded badly after the break and the game finished in a draw that left Liverpool third on 17 points after eight games with 11th-placed City on 12, having played a game fewer.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was the happier with the result, given his side had lost their last three visits to the Etihad stadium in the league and they retain a five-point advantage over City.
“The plan is always to start fast, stay fast and finish fast but that is not always possible. City is a top team,” said Klopp.
“It was an interesting game, a lot of tactical stuff on the pitch. Both teams played on an incredible energy level to close the other team down and use the few opportunities. I thought it was a top, top, top game.”
Klopp answered the question of whether to replace Roberto Firmino with the in-form Diogo Jota by picking both players in a very attacking lineup and unsurprisingly his side began positively.
The visitors took the lead in the 13th minute when Sadio Mane turned sharply in the box and went down after contact from Kyle Walker and Salah converted the spot-kick.
An even better turn produced City’s equaliser in the 31st minute when De Bruyne found Jesus in the box and the Brazilian’s superb twist set him free of Trent Alexander-Arnold and earned him just enough space to poke past Alisson.
City then wasted an opportunity to take the lead, three minutes before the interval, when De Bruyne missed a penalty — awarded after his cross struck the arm of Joe Gomez and referee Craig Pawson gave the spot-kick after checking the pitchside monitor.
The Belgian placed his kick well wide of the post to ensure the sides entered halftime still on level-terms.
Yet the excitement of the opening 45 minutes was not replicated after the break as City gained greater control but struggled to create real openings.
Ederson did well to save from Jota at the near post and at the other end Jesus was off-target after being found unmarked in the box by Joao Cancelo.
“When you cannot win in 80-85 minutes, you cannot lose it. When you play against a contender like Liverpool, you have to try and win but you cannot lose. We know each other quite well,” said Guardiola.