By Jack Wilkinson
Football journalist - @jacktwilkinson
Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City: Riyad Mahrez misses late penalty
Report and highlights as champions' winless run at Anfield stretches to 18 games
Last Updated: 08/10/18 6:02am
Riyad Mahrez blazed over a late penalty as Manchester City missed the chance to end Liverpool's unbeaten start to the season in a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Super Sunday.
The Algeria international had the chance to snatch all three points for the champions after Virgil van Dijk tripped Leroy Sane in the area on 85 minutes, but he smashed the ball over from 12 yards as the much-anticipated top-of-the-table clash ended level.
Liverpool looked to have City's number in a blistering opening 10-minute spell but Pep Guardiola's men settled, limiting the Reds to few chances as both sides' flawless starts to the season remained intact.
The point lifts City top and Liverpool up to third in the Premier League on goal difference, with City's position heading into the international break consolation after failing to end their 18-game winless run at Anfield.
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (6), Lovren (7), Robertson (7), Milner (5), Wijnaldum (7), Henderson (7), Salah (6), Mane (6), Firmino (6).
Subs: Keita (6), Sturridge (5).
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (6), Stones (7), Laporte (7), Mendy (6), Fernandinho (8), B Silva (6), D Silva (7), Mahrez (5), Sterling (6), Aguero (6).
Subs: Jesus (5), Sane (5).
Man of the Match: Fernandinho
Keen to add to their three victories over the champions last season, Liverpool flew out of the blocks. Mohamed Salah had the first opening inside four minutes as he latched onto a Joe Gomez header and skipped inside a defender, but he fired wide at Ederson's near post.
Sadio Mane looked to have set up Salah for the opener with an inch-perfect cross three minutes later, after bursting past Bernardo Silva to get into the area, but the outstretched leg of Benjamin Mendy bailed City out, hacking the ball to safety.
The trademark of Liverpool's powerful start was their ability to win the ball back high up the field - the first time City manage to replicate that, they created their first chance as Fernandinho slipped Raheem Sterling in down the right channel, and his shot was blocked behind for a corner.
City's first prolonged spell of pressure yielded a strong appeal for a penalty on 20 minutes. Gomez's sliced clearance fell for Aguero in the area where he was clumsily bundled to ground by Dejan Lovren but referee Martin Atkinson was unmoved.
Liverpool suffered a blow just before the half-hour mark with the loss of James Milner to injury and that, coupled with the hosts' inability to maintain their break-neck start, allowed City to get a foothold in the game.
City's perseverance playing out from the back almost cost them dear nine minutes after the interval as Liverpool regained possession in opposition territory. Milner's replacement, Naby Keita, and Mane both tried to get shots away in quick succession but some last-gasp City defending scrambled the ball clear.
Jurgen Klopp made two changes following Liverpool’s midweek Champions League defeat as Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita. There were four changes to the City line-up as John Stones, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez were recalled.
City saw another appeal for a penalty turned down on the hour when Fernandinho was penalised for a push on Van Dijk instead of the Dutchman's handball.
The sense of injustice galvanised City, who created their best chance of the game a minute later. After David Silva threaded Mahrez through on goal, the Algerian outfoxed Andrew Robertson to fashion space and get a shot away but flashed a left-footed effort a yard wide.
Liverpool rallied but their clinical final touch continued to evade them as Salah blazed an effort into the Kop, after latching onto Robertson's long through ball on 69 minutes, and substitute Daniel Sturridge failed to get enough power on a header 10 minutes later.
City's third penalty appeal proved successful after Van Dijk's lunge on Sane, but Mahrez's woeful attempt let Liverpool off the hook as City surrendered two points. How crucial those points are, come the end of the season, remains to be seen.
- Liverpool extended their home unbeaten run against Manchester City to 18 games in all competitions (W12 D6), with their last such defeat coming in May 2003 (1-2).
- Pep Guardiola has won just one of his last eight managerial meetings with Jurgen Klopp in all competitions (D3 L4), and is winless in the most recent four (D1 L3).
- Liverpool's return of 20 points is their joint-most after eight games of a Premier League campaign, having also done so in 1996-97 and 2008-09.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 14 home games against 'top six' opposition in the Premier League, winning six and drawing eight of these fixtures.
- With Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all yet to suffer a league defeat this term, this is just the second time in Premier League history that as many as three teams have gone unbeaten in their opening eight games of a single season (also 2011-12, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United).
Man of the Match - Fernandinho
City suffered heavy defeats on their last two trips to Anfield. They say things come in threes, and perhaps they would have done had Fernandinho not been on the pitch. The Brazilian epitomised everything Guardiola would have wanted from his side - grit, determination and the capacity to disrupt Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp: "It was a very intense game, two very well organised sides sticking to the plan. The start of the brilliant, spot on from the first second, we caused them a lot of problems. We had fantastic situations but couldn't finish unfortunately but stayed in the game over 90 minutes."
Pep Guardiola: "We played so well. If you want to analyse the result, it is okay, it could be better. But at the end, the managers need to analyse what we have done and what we need to do. That is the most important thing."
What would VAR have changed?
Lovren's rash challenge from behind on Aguero was certainly worth another look, with the Liverpool centre-back failing to make contact with the ball as Aguero was sent tumbling. VAR could have been consulted to establish whether Mane kicked out at Fernandinho. The pair clashed in the 33rd minute, with the City midfielder adjudged to have fouled his Liverpool counterpart. When on the ground, Mane appeared to lash out, thrusting his legs into the air and towards the face of Fernandinho. Referee Atkinson looked on the incident favourable for Liverpool, with both players spoken to about their conduct.
Both clubs resume their Premier League campaigns after the international break. Liverpool travel to Huddersfield for a tea-time kick-off on Saturday, October 20, while Manchester City host Burnley earlier that day at 3pm.