Skrtel error sees City claim draw
Skrtel (34) put the Reds ahead at half-time with a thumping
header from Steven Gerrard’s corner, only for Yaya Toure to
equalise from Carlos Tevez’s cross on 63 minutes.
However, three minutes later, Luis Suarez restored Liverpool’s
lead with an excellent free-kick curled around the City wall.
But Skrtel’s blind backpass on 80 minutes gifted Tevez the
opportunity to reound Pepe Reina and score, and the Argentinian
made no mistake as he netted his 100th goal in English football to
give the champions a point.
Liverpool were much improved after crashing 3-0 at West Brom in
their opener, but new manager Brendan Rodgers was denied his first
league win as City again produced the sort of fightback they are
beginning to specialise in.
After coming from behind to win their last three games 3-2, a
City side which showed five changes had to settle for a draw this
Liverpool dominated for large spells with 17-year-old striker
Raheem Sterling impressing on his first league start and Joe Allen
looking composed on his home debut.
Mario Balotelli partnered Tevez up front for City on his first
start since being sent off at Arsenal last April – and on a ground
where he was dismissed last year – but despite looking focused, had
a quiet game.
Liverpool showed early intent as captain Gerrard twice stabbed
low long-range shots wide in the opening three minutes.
Yet the game had hardly started when Liverpool were forced to
make a change as Lucas, who missed most of last season with a knee
injury, hobbled off after four minutes.
City had their first attempt on goal when Aleksandar Kolarov
fired a free-kick straight at Reina before Pablo Zabaleta launched
a counter-attack with a fine tackle on Fabio Borini. Tevez took up
the attack but his cross found no-one.
Liverpool should have gone ahead when the lively Sterling
whipped in a fine cross for Borini but the Italian volleyed
Tevez almost made him pay instantly as he latched on to a
well-weighted pass from Samir Nasri and rounded Reina but the angle
was too tight and he did well enough to hit the far post.
Kolo Toure tried his luck with a long-range shot but Skrtel
blocked and a free-kick on the edge of the area came to nothing
after Balotelli robbed Sebastian Coates and was tripped by Martin
Liverpool then began to establish control with Sterling
particularly looking a handful.
Kolo Toure blocked an effort by Borini, Suarez curled wide and
City captain Vincent Kompany almost sliced a vicious low curling
cross from Gerrard into his own net.
The Reds were not to be denied any longer as Skrtel came forward
for the resulting corner and powered a header past Joe Hart from
City were stung by the goal and struggled to make an impression
as Liverpool dominated the remainder of the first half.
The hosts went close to doubling their lead before the break as
Suarez flashed narrowly wide with another effort.
The Merseysiders thoroughly deserved their half-time lead and
ovation and returned with much the same enthusiasm as Borini
pounced on a mistake to set up Suarez, but the Uruguayan missed the
City boss Roberto Mancini began to make changes around the hour
as he sought a way back into the game. Former Everton man Jack
Rodwell predictably entered to boos from the home fans when he
replaced Nasri and Edin Dzeko came on for Balotelli.
Within moments, City were back level, but it owed much to
Tevez beat Sterling on the right and fired in a cross which the
outstretched Reina was unable to claim. Kelly was wrong-footed by
the Spaniard’s attempts to gather and could not prevent the ball
bouncing off him into the path of Yaya Toure, who swept home from
Liverpool did not dwell on the disappointment and produced the
Rodwell was penalised for handball 25 yards from goal and Suarez
stepped up to bend a low effort past an ineffective wall.
It might have got worse for City as Glen Johnson charged into
the area and went down but Kolarov was deemed to have made a clean
Yet just as it seemed Liverpool had the measure of the
champions, Skrtel gifted them a way back into the game as Tevez
seized on his poor pass back and calmly beat Reina.
Liverpool still wanted all three points and Jonjo Shelvey shot
over from distance before Andy Carroll came on to a huge roar in
the closing minutes.
City also pushed forward and Dzeko twice missed the target with
Carroll almost grabbed a last-gasp winner as he got his head to
a Suarez cross but Kompany headed off the line.