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Manchester City vs. Liverpool: Final score 2-2, City and Liverpool battle to draw in epic encounter

Manchester City and Liverpool fought to a 2-2 draw that helped neither team in an incredible game of football at the Etihad Stadium.

Alex Livesey

Despite a game replete with all-out attacking, fantastic goals, some superb pieces of skill and some of the most determined performances seen all season, both teams in this game will find their position weakened by a draw that harms both of their chances in the Premier League.

Manchester City came out on the front foot, but the game got off to a largely mediocre start as both sides floundered in midfield. Eventually, it was Liverpool who crafted the first clear chance, Glen Johnson's ball over the top finding Daniel Sturridge, who took the ball past Joe Hart, but the ever-reliable Pablo Zabaleta was on hand with a last-ditch tackle to keep the striker out.

Manchester City soon enjoyed a fine opportunity themselves though, and they were not so wasteful. Daniel Agger's poor positioning allowed James Milner to receive a through-ball down the left, and his cut-back found Edin Dzeko for the Bosnian to finish and prove his worth as a starter.

The goal was harsh on Liverpool, who were perhaps edging the game, but they were to equalise soon afterwards through, former Citizen Daniel Sturridge smashing a fantastic low shot from outside the area to beat Joe Hart and deservedly restore parity.

With one of the last moves of the half, Manchester City almost gave Liverpool a lead courtesy of an uncharacteristic error from Zabaleta as he played a careless overhit backpass to Joe Hart, which went past the City keeper and was inches away from rolling into the net and giving Zabaleta the indignity of having scored one of the most comical own-goals of all time. Fortunately for the hosts, the ball dribbled wide and the half finished 1-1.

Liverpool came out for the second half with intent, however, and had the better chances in the opening period. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez produced some fine interplay which resulted in the ball being cut back to Gerrard on the edge of the area, but his goalbound shot was blocked.

Just afterwards, Liverpool forced another corner which was well-worked, resulting in Henderson finding Suarez at the far post, who centred for Jamie Carragher, but Joleon Lescott somehow managed to get ahead of the veteran defender to save a near-certain goal. Just afterwards, Liverpool felt that they should have had a penalty after Sturridge got goalside of Lescott and tumbled to the turf, but the new Liverpool signing was duly booked for diving. Replays showed there was contact, although Sturridge's reaction was exaggerated at best.

That booking appeared to signal the end of Liverpool's offensive, and they were fortunate not to be down to ten men afterwards after Jamie Carragher went through the back of Sergio Aguero with both feet, but he escaped with only a yellow card to his name. The Reds were soon to go back on the attack however, Suarez and Sturridge's runs creating havoc on the outskirts of the City area, but a lack of composure led to few clear chances being created.

It was to become a familiar pattern as Liverpool both enjoyed possession and counter-attacked at will, yet poor decision-making and a lack of numbers forward meant that they were unable to make use of space afforded to their forwards. They didn't need an intricate passing display to take the lead, however - in classic fashion, a loose ball dribbled to Steven Gerrard 30 yards from goal, and the midfielder rolled back the years to smash an unstoppable howitzer of a shot into the corner of the net which left Joe Hart without a prayer.

Liverpool looked good value for their lead and in control of the game, but disaster and genius were to strike shortly afterwards. A long ball forwards found the run of Sergio Aguero, with Pepe Reina making a poor decision to come out of his area to cut it out. The ball, however, was outside the area, and with Reina unable to use his hands, could do nothing but watch as Aguero somehow squeezed the ball into the net from the most acute of angles. With ten minutes left on the clock, the game was set for a blockbuster finale.

A period of breathless football followed, with both teams going all-out for victory, Manchester City desperate not to fall further behind in the title race and Liverpool equally determined to atone for losing their lead. The visitors almost took the lead again through a familiar move with Suarez and Sturridge being given the freedom of either flank, and the ball appeared to bounce perfectly for Gerrard outside the area for yet more heroics, but his strike was blocked and City survived.

It was then City's turn to attack, with an initially ponderous series of approaches suddenly livening up when Sergio Aguero went on a mazy dribble right through the Liverpool defence, but he could only gain a corner which was dealt with by the visitors.

In a to-and-fro contest, just before injury time Liverpool mounted another attack, with some excellent skill from Stewart Downing finding Sturridge on the edge of the area, whose powerful drive was kept out by an excellent save from Joe Hart. Both teams were pushing, and had come close, and were only boosted by the sight of five minutes of added time being awarded.

Manchester City looked ominous as they attempted a calmer approach in attacking, with some excellent passing eventually getting Maicon into a dangerous area in the Liverpool area, but Carragher managed to stick out a desperate leg to deflect the ball over the bar, before a poor corner heralded the end of the pressure. Despite a late Suarez run producing a corner which City struggled to deal with however, the game finished 2-2 - despite the endeavour and quality of both teams, a mutually-destructive draw which leaves both sides trailing their goals by nine points.