Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty as Manchester City blew the chance of ending their Anfield hoodoo.
The Algerian winger stepped up in the 86th minute after Leroy Sane had been caught by Virgil van Dijk.
But Mahrez blasted his spot-kick way over the bar as honours between the Premier League’s top two ended even.
City, who had not won at Liverpool since 2003, had the game’s first shot on target through Mahrez in the 61st minute in a game which was hard fought.
He also forced Alisson into a smart save while Mohamed Salah spurned chances at the other end for the hosts.
Here we examine three things learned from the clash.
A BATTLE ROYALE
It has often been said the reason why Floyd Mayweather was so successful was his defence. He had the mastered the art of not being hit down to a tee and finished his career unbeaten at 50-0.
If this game is anything to go by then Liverpool and City have all the attributes to finish the season unbeaten.
While their attacks have been lauded in the past, the defences proved their worth in an Anfield contest that emphasises why they are currently the two best teams in the Premier League.
This was a closely-fought battle which saw control, counter punching – and, ultimately, no decisive knockout blow. Riyad Mahrez had that opportunity but spurned it with his awful penalty kick.
Having had the first shot on target in the 61st minute, followed by one for Salah at the other end, it would have been unfair to either side if there was a winner.
Neither wanted to lose, nor could they afford to.
The lack of attempts on target were credit to the backlines and their determination not to give anything away. Any teams so hard to break down like this, and with frontmen proven to conjure up opportunities in an instant, will have every chance of remaining the ones to beat
It’s three years now since Raheem Sterling left Liverpool in acrimonious circumstances. The England international said he wanted to better himself and win trophies, while Reds fans felt he went for the greater riches on offer at Manchester City and give him stick whenever he comes back to Anfield.
It seems unfair given every professional should be given an opportunity to pursue glory and Liverpool also received up to £49 million for a young player yet to fulfill his potential.
But as the 23-year-old endured another difficult day, it’s clear he is affected on his return to his old stamping ground. He’s never looked comfortable or as confident as he is at the Etihad Stadium, where he has three goals at home this season.
It’s not down to ability nor effort, but points to psychological. The constant barracking and boos must take their toll no matter how much he tries to blot it out or show defiance.
Sterling’s brilliance has been there to behold, but I often wonder if he would be better starting on the bench and then unleashed as defences begin to tire.
He also works better in tandem with Leroy Sane. There is a chemistry between the pair which makes their contributions classy as well as cavalier.
With Riyad Mahrez struggling on the opposite wing, strangely reluctant to go on the outside of his marker Andrew Robertson, the onus was on Sterling to fire City’s attack.
But it was tough going for the Englishman and no surprise when he was eventually replaced by Sane.
CITY’S FUTURE DEFENCE
In two games last season against Liverpool, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones were found wanting and questions asked of their ability.
Costing more than £100m between them, this was the pair Pep Guardiola was hoping could be the cornerstone of City’s defence for the next decade.
But they were teased and tormented by the fearsome Reds attack in crucial Premier League and Champions League losses.
Stones was pressed into mistakes as City’s hopes of an ‘Invincible’ campaign ended in the league meeting, while Laporte looked a liability when moved to the left side of defence in the Anfield encounter which pretty much ended City’s European dream.
But Guardiola kept believing in them and rightly so. At 24, they are still learning and, in starting with them on Sunday and leaving the experienced Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi on the bench, it signalled a changing of the guard and a show of faith.
Stones and Laporte did not let him down. In such a high-octane, high risk, high pressured game, they kept their cool with important clearances and remained classy.
While they are still a work in progress and need more games together, there is a look of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic about them and we all know how good and how successful they were.
Liverpool held Manchester City to a 0-0 draw at Anfield as defences proved the difference in a game which saw the attackers struggle.
Mohamed Salah has been in the spotlight this season after failing to shine in the early months and he again suffered in Sunday’s clash.
Here, we take a closer look at the Egyptian’s performance.
Against Napoli in midweek, Salah reached a personal nadir.
The Egyptian’s first touch resembled repelling magnets, his passing was wildly erratic while he often ran into blocked avenues to stifle Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Against City, he was once again frustrating but equal parts fantastic, too.
The touch and control was much closer to that of last season. He lso buzzed around the pitch with bags of energy, yet the disappointment arrived whenever he had a sight of goal.
He looked hungrier, but remains starved of goals in comparison to last season’s gluttony of 44 strikes in all competitions.
If you required a microcosm of his season so far, it arrived in the 68th minute when his sublime diagonal run from right to left saw him take in Andy Robertson’s pass off an awkward bounce, only to place his poor effort wide.
Regardless, he was Liverpool’s liveliest player. Even if he’s still not quite living up to the heights of last season.
Energy – The biggest criticism of Salah in Naples was his lack of energy, both in attacking and defensive phases. Against City, he was far more vibrant. If only he could have matched his strong showing with confidence in front of goal.
Always available – When you’re out of form, it’s easy to recline into your shell and hide away from the ball. But credit to Salah who continued to try and make inroads and offer himself in dangerous positions, despite Benjamin Mendy’s own attacking impetus being strangled to marshall the Liverpool forward.
Finishing – No awards for guessing this would be mentioned. The complexion of Salah’s performance would be decidedly different had he finished two of the golden opportunities. One was trademark Salah in build-up and shadow Salah in the finish, as he cut inside onto his left but curled straight into the arms of Ederson. The other was previously mentioned shot from Robertson’s pass.
Passing – Aside from James Milner, who exited the game before the half hour through injury, Salah possessed the worst pass success rate of any Liverpool player in the starting XI with 71.4 per cent. Now this may point to him opting for riskier passes to help break down the City defence, or as was the case on occasion, it was simple balls going astray.
Promising, but still far from perfect. He was Liverpool’s best player from an attacking perspective – although that’s not the greatest barometer considering the performances of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The blunt attack is something Jurgen Klopp must be very concerned about right now.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com
The only moment of note was the late City penalty, given away by Virgil van Dijk for a foul on Leroy Sane, which was blazed over the bar by Riyad Mahrez.
Here are our ratings for the Reds:
Alisson – Very quiet game and only called on to make one save of note, late in the second half. Accurate distribution of 80 per cent. 6
Joe Gomez – Shocking mistake to almost gift Aguero a goal. Dealt reasonably well with Raheem Sterling but Benjamin Mendy caused him issues. Got down the right in the second half, without being able to deliver the telling cross. 6
Dejan Lovren – Very fortunate not to give up a penalty on Aguero in first half. But produced two superb one-on one-tackles in second half – one on Mahrez and the other on Jesus. 7
Virgil van Dijk – Called on to make some big defensive plays in first half. Strong in the air but gave away the penalty with a clumsy lunge on Sane. Luckily for him, Mahrez missed. 6
Andrew Robertson – Got down the left well without delivering that telling ball. A good battle with Mahrez that finished even. 6
Gini Wijnaldum – Some sharp touches early on, but space was limited by City’s speedy centre midfield. Faded as the game went on. 5
Riyad Mahrez’s penalty was bad. Very bad. pic.twitter.com/5FHInsF33R— FPL Vinnie 🇨🇽 (@FPLVinnie) October 7, 2018
Jordan Henderson – Solid in defence but unable to spark the Liverpool front three. Came into the game more in the second half, but again, could not find the killer pass. 6
James Milner – Number of poorly directed passes in first half, and seemed a little off the pace, substituted on 29 minutes due to injury with Naby Keita coming on. 5
Mohamed Salah – Plenty of effort and lots of runs but just did not receive the necessary service in the first 45, when he got some chances in the second half could not use them. 6
Roberto Firmino – Suffocated out of the game by the smothering City press, tried hard but just could not get into the match, substituted on 72 minutes for Daniel Sturridge. 4
Sadio Mane – Tried to find some room all game but contained comfortably by the City back four and Fernandinho. Like Salah, well off his magic touch of last season. 5
Naby Keita – Recovered from his back spasm midweek and was called on in the first 30 minutes to replace the stricken Milner. Kept busy with 31 touches. 6
Daniel Sturridge – Thrown on for Firmino. Got a header on target on 78 minutes, but easily saved. 5