Man City Takes Control Of Title Race With Breathtaking 2-2 Liverpool Draw

The two best football teams on the planet exchanged cross-field rakers, 70-yard goalkeeper pings, marauding fullbacks, suffocating periods of pressure and jaw-dropping displays of skill on Sunday in a potential Premier League title decider that fittingly ended 2-2 between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad. 

Who's ready to watch them do it all again next Saturday at Wembley in the FA Cup semifinals?

Any notion of the match not living up to the hype was dismissed inside the opening minutes when Raheem Sterling raced through on goal for a one-on-one with Alisson, but the Brazilian keeper got a leg to the Englishman's effort.

Liverpool thought it'd escaped early punishment, but City came right back at them. Kevin De Bruyne escaped Fabinho and worked space to shoot on the edge of the area, where fortune favors the brave, and he got an incredible deflection off Joël Matip that created an unstoppable trajectory off the far post and in.  

City's opening 10 minutes were imperious, but then it was Liverpool's turn to land a punch. Thiago got the Reds up the pitch with a sublime switch, but it ultimately came down to the work of Liverpool's two fullbacks. Andrew Robertson clipped one to the back post and Trent Alexander-Arnold picked out Diogo Jota for the finish. 

City's turn again. De Bruyne dragged one wide. João Cancelo fired outside the post. Around the 30-minute mark you sensed that Liverpool was very much bending, and in the 36th minute they finally broke.  

A period of pressure led to a corner kick that ultimately ended with Cancelo picking out Gabriel Jesus with a sensational cross. Jesus beat Alexander-Arnold with his run and side-footed an effort crossbar down for his first league goal since September.     

Liverpool ended the half in distress and struggling to cope, so whatever Jürgen Klopp said at halftime was clearly genius (post-match he said he "showed the boys the goal" to emphasize how to get at City). One minute after the restart, Mohamed Salah threaded one through for Sadio Mané to curl home brilliantly.  

It looked like the pendulum swung back in City's favor in the 63rd after Sterling had the ball in the back of the net, but a VAR review showed that he was leaning offside before receiving De Bruyne's through ball. Ultimately it was good defending from Virgil van Dijk, who had a great second half with a good block, a dominant one-on-one with Sterling and some good shepherding of Jesus in a dangerous situation.

The final opportunities of the match fell to Riyad Mahrez, who struck the outside of the post with a free kick in the 90th minute and then sent a lob over in the 94th.

The two sides combined for 17 shots (nine on target) from 13 key passes (Salah provided three; De Bruyne, Cancelo and Silva each had two). 

"It was an intense one, huh? It was like a boxing fight," Klopp said after. Guardiola called it "nice."

At the end of the day, City maintains its one-point lead over Liverpool with seven matches remaining. Here are the remaining league fixtures for both clubs.  

Manchester City Remaining Fixtures

  • TBD - 8th-place Wolves (A) 
  • April 20 - 11th-place Brighton (H)
  • April 23 - 19th-place Watford (H)
  • April 30 - 16th-place Leeds (A)
  • May 8 - 15th-place Newcastle (H)
  • May 15 - 6th-place West Ham (A)
  • May 22 - 12th-place Aston Villa (H) 

Liverpool Remaining Fixtures

  • April 19 - 7th-place Man United (H) 
  • April 24 - 17th-place Everton (H)
  • April 30 - 15th-place Newcastle (A)
  • May 7 - 4th-place Tottenham (H)
  • May 10 - 12th-place Aston Villa (A)
  • May 15 - 14th-place Southampton (A)
  • May 22 - 8th-place Wolves (H) 

Liverpool will be aiming for perfection to have a chance, but the Reds have the more difficult run-in. Guardiola said City needed to win all seven to claim the title. 

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