LONDON: James Bond actor Daniel Craig is a Liverpool fan and the Reds’ 2:2 draw with Manchester City was a drama worthy of a movie thriller.
City commanded the first half but Liverpool responded after the interval with typical power and brilliance to lead 1:0 and then 2-1. The brilliant Mo Salah made the first goal for Sadio Mane then scored the second himself.
Yet each time City hit back through Phil Foden and then Kevin de Bruyne. The price Klopp’s Liverpool paid was losing top spot in the Premier League table to Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.
Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola had said before the game that Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp had made him a better manager because their personal and club rivalry had forced him to work harder and think even more deeply about confronting a team who play a very different style.
Before travelling to Anfield Guardiola had suffered eight defeats in all competitions against teams managed by Klopp, more defeats than against any other manager.
City might have taken the lead in the 20th minute. Bernardo Silva played Phil Foden in behind the Liverpool defence but the England forward delayed his shot and Alisson saved. Moments later Kevin de Bruyne scraped an angled shot across the face of goal.
Foden, a perpetual danger on the left wing, claimed a penalty in vain in the 32nd minute after a clash with James Milner. Then he provided a far-post cross which De Bruyne headed wastefully wide.
Liverpool appeared unsettled by, unusually, having to attack the Kop end in the first half. They had enjoyed 24 hours more preparation time than City but were lethargic in midfield and attack and fortunate to be level at halftime.
Klopp obviously had hard words for his players at halftime. They were a different team after the interval with more energy, determination and fire. Their reward was a 59th-minute goal from Mane with Salah providing the assist.
City responded superbly and were level nine minutes later. Jesus cut inside from the right wing and provided Foden with the opportunity to claim the equalising reward all his first-half work had deserved.
Minutes later Guardiola’s mood changed from delight to anger when James Milner, who had already been booked, escaped a yellow card for tripping Bernardo Silva. Klopp immediately acknowledged Liverpool’s good fortune by preparing to bring on substitute Joe Gomez in place of the veteran defender.
As he waited Liverpool regained the lead with a superb solo goal from Salah. Milner, to Guardiola’s continuing fury, had played an important part in the build-up to the goal. The City manager’s continuing complaints earned him a yellow card from referee Paul Tierney.
Guardiola would have believed justice was served in the 81st minute when De Bruyne’s shot was deflected into goal by Joel Matip for another equaliser.
Klopp said: “A very average first half from us. We were too passive with and without the ball and played right into City’s hands. That was the worst half we have played against them. I was more than pleased when I heard the whistle for half time because we had to adjust a lot of things and we did.
“Second half completely different. If we only played the second half I would have loved to have win but with the first half I am happy with the point.”
Pep Guardiola: “What a game. That is the reason the last years Man City and Liverpool were always there because we try to play in this way. It was great, really great.
“I know how difficult it is against these players and this manager. Every time it is incredible challenge for us. The way we played at Stamford Bridge, in Paris and today shows we are a great team. When we lose the way we play in Paris [against Paris St-Germain] and draw today it is good. I pray we continue and player come back from their national teams safe.
“Phil Foden is a special player we know it. he came back from the national team injured, he is a fantastic player – but not just him, everyone was fantastic.”