Manchester City and Liverpool play to a scintillating 1-1 tie that helps neither team

Sometimes, neither team loses and neither team wins. They call this a tie. But whereas most are useful to at least one team – usually the overmatched one, or the one playing away from home – Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Manchester City and Liverpool really didn’t help either team.

A win would have put City even on points with second-place Tottenham Hotspur and given Pep Guardiola’s side some breathing room in the fight to the death among the top six teams for four Champions League spots – working on the assumption that Chelsea has the title pretty much locked up already with a 10-point lead.

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Liverpool, likewise, would have appreciated a third win a row – after a stretch in which the Reds won just one in seven and manager Jurgen Klopp came under fire – which would have taken third place from City and earned a margin for error with fifth-place Manchester United. United, after all, has two games in hand and trails Liverpool by only four points.

In Manchester’s teeming rain, both sides inarguably played for the three points, making for a hugely entertaining match, even if it did finish 1-1.

It was a clash of charismatic managers, who are committed aesthetes and tried to beat their opponent with their superior attacks knowing full well that each had a great number of defensive issues to mask.

The first 50 minutes were defined, primarily, by penalties not awarded by referee Michael Oliver. Because other than a series of pleas for a spot kick, there wasn’t much else by way of chances other than David Silva’s left-footed volley that just missed the Liverpool goal after Leroy Sane’s low cross to Raheem Sterling was cut out.

First, Sadio Mane had a penalty shout for Liverpool on the challenge from Nicolas Otamendi.

A few minutes later, it looked an awful lot like Yaya Toure had taken out Georginio Wijnaldum in breach of the rules.

Then it was City’s turn to be denied a penalty. Silva was played through and knocked the ball across to Sterling, but he was apparently chopped down by the trailing James Milner. There was no call, though. Not even after Fernandinho somehow put the loose ball into the side netting.

Before halftime, City goalkeeper Willy Caballero batted away a Roberto Firmino curler and then an Adam Lallana rocket to preserve the stalemate.

But in the 50th minute, Liverpool at last got its penalty. Firmino chested down a ball in the box and was clattered into by Gael Clichy from behind. Oliver finally located his once-missing whistle and blew it. Correctly.

Milner whacked in the penalty.

City was the stronger team from then on and deserved its equalizer. In the 69th minute, Kevin De Bruyne’s splendid low cross was tapped in by the poaching Sergio Aguero, right after the Argentine missed a big opportunity.

De Bruyne then hit the post on his opportunity to win the game.

There would be more chances to secure multiple points for both sides. Georginio Wijnaldum chipped a ball over the line for Milner, whose lay-off for Adam Lallana gave him a one-on-one chance. But Lallana got his finish incomprehensibly wrong.

Sterling then almost chipped Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. And Aguero airmailed a clean shot in extra time.

Both teams had to settle for a single point when – with nine or 10 games to play apiece – those have become precious. If there were any winners, it was Tottenham, Man United and even sixth-place Arsenal, which remains in striking distance.

And, of course, the neutral fan, who was treated to one of the more entertaining games of the season.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

Aguero and Lallana each had a horrific miss in front of goal. (Reuters)
Aguero and Lallana each had a horrific miss in front of goal. (Reuters)

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