Gabriel Jesus earned Manchester City a 1-1 draw with champions Liverpool, but Kevin De Bruyne was left red-faced after an exhilarating clash between the two favourites for the title at the Etihad Stadium.
Jurgen Klopp responded to questions over who he would name in his front three by selecting both Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota in the same side as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. It was a bold move and the visitors got their reward for a hugely positive start when Salah converted a penalty on 13 minutes.
City had looked second best up to the half hour mark as they struggled to handle the visitors’ surprise formation but dragged themselves level shortly after the half-hour mark when Jesus’ brilliant turn and finish made it three goals in three appearances this season.
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The hosts then spurned a glorious opportunity to go in at the break ahead when De Bruyne dragged a harshly-awarded penalty wide of target.
The end-to-end frenzy that made the first period such a fabulous spectacle was sadly lacking in the second half with Jesus’ miss from a free header the best opportunity either side had to notch a winner.
The result means the Merseysiders lie in third place, one point behind Leicester City. Man City are five points off the Reds in 11th, having played a game less.
Liverpool will now host leaders Leicester City after the international break on November 21. City will hope to be ready for another stern test when Guardiola faces off with Jose Mourinho once again at Tottenham.
Liverpool more content after game of two halves. This was a better draw for Liverpool than it was for City. The Reds would have been top of the table had they taken the three points their opening half hour performance suggested they could, but they faded as the contest wore on and had to dig in claim a share of the spoils. If you discount the debacle at Aston Villa, the champions have looked rather strong and tough to beat in their opening eight matches, and have already faced some of their more difficult away trips on paper at City, Chelsea and Everton. They may have lost Virgil van Dijk, but have coped well without the Dutch giant so far.
As for Guardiola and Co, there’s plenty of work to be done. They may well lament a missed penalty from KDB (let’s not talk about the harsh VAR call and the tiresome debate about what constitutes hand ball nowadays), but he’ll probably be most disappointed with the lack of creativity and spark to carve out openings. It's a real plus to have Jesus back to lead the line and the centre back partnership between Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte looks promising.
It may have petered out into an attritional battle but when this game was good, it was an excellent watch and you’d still expect both sides to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, though it is looking like it could be a much, much tighter race than in the last few years with a number of clubs in the running.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gabriel Jesus. (Man City). The striker was only featuring in his second Premier League match of the season, but completely changed the momentum of the game with a bewitching piece of skill that he combined with a lethal finish. Gave City a much-needed attacking focal point without Sergio Aguero, but will be disappointed he didn’t snatch a winner with a second-half header.
MAN CITY: Ederson 7, Walker 6, Ruben Dias 7, Laporte 7, Cancelo 7, De Bruyne 6, Rodri 6, Gundogan 6, Torres 6, Sterling 7, Jesus 8. Subs: Bernardo Silva 6.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 6, Matip 8, Gomez 7, Robertson 7, Henderson 6, Wijnaldum 6, Jota 6, Salah 7, Firmino 6, Mane 7. Subs: Shaqiri 6, Milner 6.
13’ - GOAL! – Man City 0-1 Liverpool. Salah confidently strides forward and fires a firm spot kick into the right-hand corner of Ederson's net.
25’ - MAN CITY CHANCE! A Wijnaldum error allows De Bruyne to maraud down the right. He arcs a low cross towards Sterling on the far side. He takes control and looks to fire beyond Alisson, but Liverpool's keeper does enough and the visitors get men back to hack it to safety.
31’ - GOAL! – Man City 1-1 Liverpool. Jesus levels matters as he brilliantly spins on to De Bruyne's pass and stabs it beyond Alisson.
42’ - MAN CITY PENALTY MISS! De Bruyne drags his spot kick wide of Alisson's right-hand post as the keeper dived the opposite way.
55’ - MAN CITY CHANCE! Jesus heads a free header wide after gliding on to Cancelo's delightful cross.
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Salah has scored eight goals for Liverpool in this season's Premier League; no player has ever scored more in the Reds' first eight matches of a campaign in the competition, level with Fernando Torres in 2009-10 and Robbie Fowler in 1995-96.
Since a run of 35 consecutive Premier League wins when opening the scoring between February and July, Liverpool have failed to win four of their last seven games when scoring the opening goal (D3 L1).
De Bruyne's penalty is the first to miss the target completely in a PL game since October 2018, when in the same fixture at Anfield, Riyad Mahrez blazed over against Liverpool for Manchester City.
Jesus' equaliser was the most number of passes (19) in the build up to a Premier League goal against Liverpool since September 2017; a strike which was also a Jesus goal (assisted by De Bruyne) at the Etihad, which was also 19 passes.