Liverpool kept their unbeaten Premier League start intact, just, as Riyad Mahrez’s late penalty miss cost Manchester City the chance for a first league win at Anfield since 2003.
A stalemate was the last thing expected between the country’s two finest teams, but a mutual respect between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola saw chances few and far between as the two teams suffocated each other in possession.
City had the better of the chances, culminating in Virgil van Dijk’s challenge on substitute Leroy Sane presenting Mahrez with the opportunity to win it from 12 yards, only for the Algerian to blaze over.
Klopp made two changes from the midweek defeat in Naples, bringing in Dejan Lovren for Trent Alexander-Arnold, seeing Joe Gomez shuffle to right back. The other was Naby Keita seeing himself back on the bench as Jordan Henderson came in.
Keita wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the pitch, with an apparent hamstring injury curtailing James Milner’s game before the match had really got going.
Liverpool enjoyed a bright first few minutes but didn’t create anything of note, with the main drama early on coming from the first of some solid penalty shouts for the visitors.
An errant Joe Gomez slice saw the ball fall kindly for Sergio Aguero, who fell to a kick from Dejan Lovren in the area. Taking very little of the ball, the Croatian was lucky that Martin Atkinson was in a forgiving mood with ‘play on’ signalled.
Despite being on top, it would take City over an hour to establish themselves with a chance from open play. A surprisingly quiet Mahrez came alive suddenly, spinning Andrew Robertson from a David Silva pass before firing narrowly wide of Alisson’s far post.
Alisson would have further work to do from Mahrez sometime later, pushing a goalbound strike wide as the winger shuffled inside from the left, City’s dominance growing as Gabriel Jesus took an unpunished hand in the face from Lovren inside the penalty area.
Without a shot on target in over 135 minutes, Mohamed Salah offered Liverpool some relief as he forced Ederson into a sporadic piece of work, curling an effort at the Brazilian after receiving the ball from Joe Gomez.
Despite that chance, it was looking increasingly likely to be City’s day if anyone’s, the pressure telling as Van Dijk lunged in on an advancing Sane with five minutes of regular time left. Admitting after the game that it was a penalty, Liverpool’s imposing centre-back couldn’t quite keep up with the German and brought him down in front of an onlooking Atkinson.
Following some seemingly influential debate amongst the visitors over who would take the penalty, Mahrez stepped up to continue a surprisingly poor run of Premier League spot-kicks. Shooting high to the left, Alisson saw the ball fly well over the bar as the City man missed a fourth penalty in six attempts.
That huge blow took the sting out of City who were quieter as the game ticked towards full time, Liverpool unable to summon the strength for a final charge as Guardiola’s men dealt with a last-gasp Joe Gomez long throw.
The draw leaves the two heavyweights joint with Chelsea on 20 points, Arsenal and Tottenham on 18 as the Premier League’s top five are separated by just two points heading into the international break.