Manchester City retain slender lead after thrilling draw with rivals Liverpool

Manchester City maintained their slim lead at the top of the Premier League when their decisive clash with title rivals Liverpool ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Kevin De Bruyne fired the champions into a five-minute lead at the Etihad Stadium, but Diogo Jota equalized eight minutes later for the second-placed Reds.

Gabriel Jesús restored City’s lead before the break, but Sadio Mane marked his 30th birthday with the second equalizer for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Raheem Sterling thought he had put City ahead for the third time against his former club, but VAR ruled against him on a tight offside decision and substitute Riyad Mahrez hit the post late.

The result ended Liverpool’s run of 10 consecutive league wins and left City a point clear with just seven games remaining in the season.

The much-hyped contest lived up to the hype with the game starting at a ferocious pace and barely letting up.

City were first to advance with Jesus teeing off Sterling for a glorious opportunity in the opening minutes after a break from De Bruyne.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – Premier League – Etihad Stadium

Diogo Jota’s goal meant Manchester City did not lead for long in the crucial clash (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sterling looked sure to score, but Alisson Becker came out to meet him and blocked his shot.

City did not dwell on the miss for long as De Bruyne fired them from the front moments later.

The Belgian deflected off a tackle outside the area and fired a ferocious shot that Joel Matip deflected and crashed into the post.

Liverpool had seen little of the ball up to this point, but their response was swift and they pulled off an instant equalizer.

The Reds patiently built and Mohamed Salah extended the game to Andrew Robertson. The Scot picked out Trent Alexander-Arnold with a deep cross to the far post and the right-back’s first dismissal was clinically deflected home by Jota.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – Premier League – Etihad Stadium

Gabriel Jesus (second right) put Manchester City back in front against Liverpool (Martin Rickett/PA)

City looked to hit back quickly when Jesus tested Alisson and Rodri had an effort wide.

City goalkeeper Ederson then spooked the home fans when he stumbled trying to clear a back pass but scrambled back to sweep the line with Jota on the prowl.

The hosts had another chance when Rodri headed in a free-kick, but John Stones was unable to apply the finishing touch. De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo also had efforts deflected, but Jesus restored City’s lead in the 36th minute.

The Brazilian got behind the Liverpool defense when Cancelo finished off a cross and guided a shot past Alisson and off the crossbar. Sterling could have added a third soon after, but he couldn’t make contact with Phil Foden’s cross.

Jota wasted an opportunity to equalize just before the break when he took too long to fire and was stripped by Aymeric Laporte but Mane was more decisive on the restart.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – Premier League – Etihad Stadium

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane equalized his side for the second time (Martin Rickett/PA)

Barely 47 seconds into the second half when Salah played on his fellow striker and Mane made no mistake.

Salah then almost gave Jota another chance, but Ederson made the save.

The advantage seemed to come back to City just after the hour Sterling ran in to calmly score the scoreboard, but his celebrations were cut short when VAR ruled him narrowly offside.

The atmosphere was tense and escalated when referee Anthony Taylor failed to give Liverpool a corner despite Salah’s shot being deflected by a City defender.

City almost rubbed salt on the wound when Jesus fired a shot into the side net.

Both teams pushed until the end, and Mahrez almost got the win when his long-range free kick hit the outside of the post. The Algerian had another stoppage time chance but his chip attempt flew over.

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