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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Alex Brotherton

Brilliant Man City must heed familiar warning after titanic title test vs Liverpool FC

Manchester City and Liverpool played out a Premier League classic on Sunday afternoon, as a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium kept City one point clear of their closest rivals at the top of the table.

City twice took the lead thanks to first-half strikes from Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus, but were twice pegged back as Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane came to Liverpool's rescue. After the game Pep Guardiola declared that City had been the better side and deserved to win, admitting that the number of opportunities spurned by his side - City had five shots on target and created 10 chances - "gave them [Liverpool] a life."

"I would love them to be clever enough, make the right decision," Guardiola said of his side's wastefulness. "Tomorrow I’ll see on my laptop, the game will be stopped and I’ll say don’t pass the ball there. In football it’s half a second to make a decision. After that I understand, it’s difficult sometimes, the final third in the box. Liverpool so close and tight, it’s difficult, but it happens, we were there and we have to be confident."

READ MORE: Man City keep title race edge over Liverpool FC after another classic fixture

Liverpool were there for the taking, particularly in the first half, but failing to make the most of periods of sustained pressure is nothing new for City this season. If there is one criticism that can be levelled at the Premier League champions, it is that they waste too many clear chances.

In Sunday's draw there were five clear chances that you would have expected City to have done better with. Here they are:

Raheem Sterling, 5'

Raheem Sterling fluffed a glorious one-on-one chance early on after latching onto Jesus' brilliant cross, but he could only hit his first-time finish into the legs of Allison. Of course, this one didn't really matter as De Bruyne scored less than a minute later, but it's an example of the ruthlessness City often lack in front of goal.

Sterling squandered City's first big chance of the game (Wyscout)

Gabriel Jesus, 16'

Ten minutes later both sides had scored, but City were still breaking in behind Liverpool's back line at will. This time the roles reverse and Sterling layed off Jesus at the edge of the box, but his side footed finish was tame and straight at Allison.

The pass did come at the Brazilian quickly so he didn't have time to set himself properly, but if the shot goes closer to the right side of the goal then the goalkeeper has a job on his hands.

Jesus' strike was weak and easy for Allison to deal with (Wyscout)

Kevin de Bruyne, 29'

Like Jesus, De Bruyne didn't have long to think about this effort, but for a player of his quality - who had a superb game - you'd expect him to at least test Allison.

Joao Cancelo dinked the ball between the defenders to find De Bruyne in a small pocket of space, where he swivelled and shot in one action but dragged his effort into the side netting. It wasn't the easiest chance to take but it was still a very good one, at a time when Liverpool were really on the ropes.

De Bruyne could only drag his snatched effort wide (Wyscout)

Gabriel Jesus 72'

This was a great example of some terrible individual decision-making. Jesus had hared into the penalty area after running onto a De Bruyne through ball, but he decided to shoot from a tight angle and hit the side netting. Even if he had got his effort on target, there was little chance that Allison would have been beaten at his near post.

Jesus failed to notice the runs of De Bruyne and Sterling in-between the lines of defenders and tracking-back midfielders. The threat of Jesus - and the presence of Phil Foden at the back post - has forced Liverpool to leave that space open for De Bruyne to exploit, but Jesus did not look up.

Jesus could have pulled the ball back to De Bruyne but he opted to shoot instead (Wyscout)

Riyad Mahrez, 90+4'

It seems that Riyad Mahrez and last-minute chances against Liverpool just aren't meant to be together. In October 2018 the Algerian blazed an injury-time penalty over the bar with the score locked at 0-0, and on Sunday he wasted a glorious chance to snatch all three points.

Running on to what would have been the assist of the century from De Bruyne, Mahrez did everyone right at first. He cut inside onto his favoured left foot, selling the defender a dummy and buying himself a few yards of space. He took a touch to set himself, prepared to pull the trigger as Allison advanced out of goal and... chipped the ball over the bar.

Credit should go to the goalkeeper - his advanced position forced Mahrez to make a split-second decision - in this case the wrong one - but ultimately the winger should have curled his strike into the corner, as we have seen him do so many times before.

As De Bruyne quipped at full-time, "if it goes in, it's a wonder goal," but in reality, City missed a chance to place one hand on the Premier League trophy.

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