Monday, 27 August 2012

Match Report: City 2 - 2 Liverpool

City rescue point despite disappointing performance

By Aaron Leggott

It seems like Vincent Kompany and co. are so happy at the heroics performed against Queens Park Rangers, that they would like to perform it time and time again. 

In fact, it only took a poor effort from Edin Dzeko five minutes from time to prevent another 3-2 scoreline in City's favour for the fourth game in succession, and complete another unlikely victory for Roberto Mancini's men at Anfield yesterday. 

Mancini, who decided to stick with the 3-5-2 formation that worked so well for him during pre-season, was quite clearly caught out by a Liverpool side who were gunning for a victory against the Premier League champions in their first home game of the season. 

Tevez rescues a point for City
Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe

And despite a dominant performance by the home side which saw goals from Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez, they were unable to contain a City side, who pounced upon two unforgivable defensive mistakes at the heart of Liverpool's defence in the second half. 

But unsurprisingly, it was the away side who started brightly after a fortunate opening weekend victory home to Southampton, and possession was once again the key for Mancini's side, with Yaya Toure expected to push forward to support the forward trio of Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Samir Nasri.

However, to Mancini's frustration, Toure rarely ventured towards the Liverpool area, and Liverpool seemingly won the midfield battle in the first half thanks to secure displays from Joe Allen, Steven Gerrrard and Jonjo Shelvey, who replaced the injured Lucas just a few minutes after the game kicked off.

After an assured performance by his players, Brendan Rogers can also thank debut boy Raheem Sterling for a majestic performance in his first Premier League start for the Anfield outfit, as he continuously caused Kolo Toure problems throughout the 90 minutes.  

Kolo Toure was surprisingly picked ahead of Joleon Lescott in a three man defence for the Blues, and Mancini's decision certainly raised a few eyebrows, especially after Toure's less than convincing performance against 17 year old Sterling. 

And it was indeed Liverpool who created the first chance of the game, as a cross from the impressive Sterling met the foot of Fabio Borini, who could only steer the ball wide of Joe Hart's post in front of the Kop.

Despite City's sloppiness in possession, Tevez nearly gave them an unlikely lead after the half hour mark after Samir Nasri's pass found the Argentinian in the area. However, despite rounding Pepe Reina, Tevez's effort could only roll along the goal line and bounce off the post into the hands of Reina.  

It would've been a goal that had defined Tevez's career, and indeed his 100th goal in English football, showing pure willingness to chase a lost cause, but he would have cursed Balotelli's lacklustre attempt to chase towards the goal to tap the ball into the empty net. 

But Liverpool stepped up their game towards the end of the first half and deserved the lead through Skrtel in the 34th minute after a corner from Gerrard met the towering head of the Slovakian, giving Hart no chance in the goal. 

And it only gave the Reds the impetus to keep pushing at the Champions. City nearly gifted a second goal to Liverpool after the break as Borini broke clear to set up Suarez, but the Uruguayan saw his effort fly well off target. 

Clearly frustrated, Mancini eyed a change in fortunes for City, as he took off out of form Nasri for new boy Jack Rodwell, and the move paid off almost instantaneously, as the more threatening Yaya Toure equalised for City just after the hour mark. 

As expected of City nowadays, some neat play on the edge of the area saw Tevez released to deliver a tasty cross into the six yard area, and it caused numerous problems for the Liverpool defence, as Reina was unable to clear his lines.

The ball fell to the feet of Martin Kelly, but the young right back couldn't trap the ball, and the Kop saw the ball bounce off his legs into the feet of Yaya Toure, who wasn't going to miss from close range.

With City now level, Liverpool needed to raise their game, and it only took 180 seconds for them to restore parity at Anfield, as a harsh freekick was awarded to the home side after Rodwell supposedly handled a Gerrard shot.

Suarez stepped up, and whilst his effort was to be admired, Hart's wall was the opposite, and Liverpool deservedly restored their lead and gave City a lot of work to do to save a point in front of a hostile Anfield crowd.

But fortunately for City, Liverpool made the task much more easier than it should've been, as Skrtel made a horrendous back pass which found the feet of Tevez in the 81st minute, and the volatile Argentinian wasn't going to make any mistake, as he claimed his 100th goal in English football in the easiest of circumstances.

Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe
It kind of related to his pre-match interview, where he declared that he didn't mind how he scored, as long as it went in, and this was just a perfect example of why Carlos Tevez is a brilliant addition to this already magnificent league. 

City arguably could have gone on to win the game, but Dzeko's effort in the 86th minute flew above the bar, and both teams accepted the point.

The Blues would've felt more fortunate with the outcome, and will need to improve greatly if they are to have any hopes of retaining the title. Liverpool on the other hand, will hope to build upon their impressive performance and try and grab a Champions League spot at the end of the season. An entertaining game between two of the heavyweights of the league an indication of why we were missing football so much this summer.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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