Kevin De Bruyne cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s stunning strike as Manchester City twice hit back to draw 2-2 at Liverpool's Anfield, in a tie befitting two of the Premier League’s heavyweights.
A game which Pep Guardiola’s side had bossed in the first half exploded into life after the break with the stand-out moment being Salah’s weaving effort, of which Lionel Messi would have been proud.
The Egypt international twisted and turned past Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias before firing an angled right-footed shot inside the far post for his ninth goal in as many matches.
But Manchester City were left fuming that moments earlier James Milner, who was involved in the build-up, had not been shown a second yellow card for what appeared to be a blatant foul on Bernardo Silva.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 3, 2021
Only Burnley have kept Salah out this season but as good as his goal was it was not enough to secure the three points which would have taken his team back to the top of the table as Kevin De Bruyne struck with nine minutes remaining as an absorbing encounter fittingly finished honours even.
Sadio Mane’s 99th Premier League goal had given the hosts an early second-half lead only for the excellent Phil Foden to get City back on level terms.
City boss Pep Guardiola had opted to play £100million summer signing Jack Grealish as the false nine instead of Foden but it proved the right decision as he tormented the 35-year-old makeshift right-back Milner.
After a frenetic start in which City made plenty of unforced errors – including De Bruyne rolling a 10-yard square pass intended for Foden straight out of play – the visitors began to find their feet.
Liverpool paid the price for failing to make the most of their better start and were grateful to reach half-time still on level terms, thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Mo Salah is just absolutely unbelievable at football.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 3, 2021
The Brazil international blocked Foden’s effort after a brilliant run by Silva from the halfway line after escaping the close attention of Jordan Henderson and Andrew Robertson.
Alisson also came to Milner’s rescue late in the half when Foden, who had already induced his marker to get booked for hauling him back and also gone down unsuccessfully claiming a penalty for a challenge by the veteran, raced clear from Ederson’s long pass.
In between Liverpool also inexplicably gave away a large number of shooting opportunities to De Bruyne, the easiest being a far-post header from another Foden cross which the Belgium international should have buried.
The hosts were missing the attacking outlet of Trent Alexander-Arnold, out with a groin problem, and with Milner tied up with Foden and City cutting off the passing channels, the in-form Salah was barely in the game as Klopp’s side found themselves smothered in their own half.
Their manager screamed at his players to “be brave” but the ridiculous tempo the game was being played at meant there was barely a moment to think.
The closest they came to a shot on target was when Ederson almost allowed a Dias backpass to cross the goalline and it left Klopp needing to effect a reboot at half-time.
Whatever he said managed to produce Liverpool’s first shot on target in the 50th minute when Diogo Jota turned Dias on the edge of the area to force Ederson to parry.
The improvement led to the opening goal in the 59th minute when a brilliant counter-attack saw Salah side-step Cancelo out on the touchline and release Mane who raced through to finish clinically.
Former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling replaced Grealish, to a chorus of boos, but it was Foden who made the impact by slotting home an angled shot at the end of a crossfield move as Gabriel Jesus cut in off the right.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 3, 2021
Guardiola exploded in rage when Milner’s touchline challenge on the charging Silva did not result in a second yellow card, and Klopp was forced to replace the stand-in right-back with Joe Gomez.
But not before Salah produced his moment of individual brilliance in turning City’s defence inside-out.
The visitors, to their credit, pushed back and when De Bruyne was left unmarked once too often in the penalty area he converted left-footed from Foden’s cut-back, his shot deflecting in off Joel Matip.
Fabinho had a chance to snatch it with three minutes to go only to be denied at the far post by the sliding Rodri after Ederson came for a Salah cross and missed.