Guardiola played part in miss by Mahrez
MANCHESTER CITY 0
RIYAD MAHREZ missed an 85thminute penalty as Liverpool and Manchester City had to settle for a point apiece at Anfield.
The visitors had three previous claims for a spot-kick before Virgil van Dĳk’s challenge on substitute Leroy Sane eventually resulted in one, but £60m summer signing Mahrez blazed over.
It resulted in the first goalless draw between these two at Anfield since 1986 – and also City’s first clean sheet at the ground since then – but Reds manager Jurgen Klopp will be celebrating today’s third anniversary at the club as the happier manager.
The point allowed City to regain top spot from Chelsea, who had briefly taken over after their win over Southampton earlier in the day, but their opponents dropped to third.
However, the top three are all on 20 points and separated by goal difference only.
It was billed as the biggest game of the season so far, but it failed to live up to those expectations as, until the last 15 minutes, both sides appeared reluctant to commit to all-out attack for fear of what the consequences at the other end might be.
Mohamed Salah, who failed to score in a league match at Anfield for only the second time since Boxing Day last year, fired an early effort wide after turning John Stones, but it said much about the first half that it was the closest either side came to threatening a goal.
City manager Pep Guardiola, aware of how twice on this ground last season Liverpool blew them away in a 25-minute spell, appeared to have set up his side to absorb much of the early pressure and take the sting out of Liverpool with a view to trying to capitalise later on.
Guardiola did not blame Mahrez for missing the penalty – which was hammered high above the bar – but did apologise to Gabriel Jesus for not allowing him to take it. The Brazilian had been keen, but Guardiola sent a message on to the field via Benjamin Mendy telling him to defer to Mahrez.
“Yes, he wanted it,” said Guardiola, who had already substituted chief penalty-taker Sergio Aguero. “I apologise.
“But during the training sessions I see (Mahrez) taking the penalties and it gives me a lot of confidence.”
Klopp had no issues about the late award of the penalty.
He said: “It feels much easier to say it was a penalty when he didn’t score, but I saw it. I think he touched the ball a bit, but not enough. He touched Sane more.
“But we deserve this bit of luck with this performance.
“We had on Wednesday a little setback for sure. To respond is really important when the next opponent is Manchester City. If we had defended like we did against Napoli, it’s a 7-0.”
Van Dĳk admitted: “It was not smart to dive in there – it was a penalty and I said that to the referee afterwards. Obviously I’m very happy that it didn’t go in.”
PENALTY: Manchester City were awarded a late spot-kick for this challenge by Liverpool’s Virgil van Dĳk on Leroy Sane but Riyad Mahrez blasted his effort high over the bar.