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Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2: match report
Published : 21 Nov 2009 14:56:07Rss feed
Out of form, out of luck, skirting the edges of a crisis. Manchester City arrived at Anfield in exactly the same state as their hosts, spent almost 100 minutes trading blows with Liverpool and still left with more questions than answers. The most urgent, for both Mark Hughes and Rafael Benítez, of course, is whether their respective sides are good enough to claim that crucial fourth Champions League spot. On this evidence, it is a no to both. Related ArticlesTelegraph player raterPremier League tablePremier League fixturesSport on televisionFour second half goals Yossi Benayoun bundling an equaliser home after Emmanuel Adebayor and Stephen Ireland responded to Martin Skrtel's opener gave the scoreline a patina of excitement and roused the 44,000 inside Anfield from their torpor, but this was turgid fare. Both sides, of course, could claim mitigating circumstances. City, on a run of five consecutive draws, approached the game with an initial caution which suggested they were at least partly of a mind to accept a sixth. Liverpool, on a run of just one win in nine games, their season slowly imploding and half of their first team missing from their starting line-up, began brightly enough, but saw their momentum halted by long delays induced by injuries to Daniel Agger and Ryan Babel. With both substituted inside 20 minutes, they struggled to settle into a rhythm. Those two injury breaks Agger concussed, Babel hurt in a pile-up with the impressive Nigel De Jong and his own captain, Steven Gerrard set the tone for much of the opening period. Play was fractured, passes misplaced, touches uncertain. When Andre Marriner, the fourth official, indicated there would be six minutes of added time, Anfield groaned. Rarely had the prospect of a cup of stadium tea seemed so enticing. There had, after all, been precious little to warm them in the preceding 51 minutes. Shay Given, granted the sort of rousing reception the Kop reserves for victims of international injustice, produced one magnificent save to deny Martin Skrtel on a brief interlude from his wrestling match with Emmanuel Adebayor from a Gerrard free kick as Liverpool steamed forward, and Gareth Barry drew Pepe Reina into action with a free header as they forgot to defend, but that was the sum total of both sides' endeavour. In truth, the second half had been little better when Skrtel extended his right foot to steer Gerrard's in swinging free kick past Given. The goal, though, did at least force City out of their shell, their hosts belying their insecurity by withdrawing to the illusion of comfort offered by the edge of Reina's box. It was no surprise, then, when City although they had struggled to create any chances of note drew level, Adebayor pulling away from Skrtel and meeting Craig Bellamy's corner with a header of remarkable precision. Suddenly, after 75 turgid minutes, the game sprang to life. Within 120 seconds, Stephen Ireland had given City the lead, tapping home after substitute Carlos Tévez set Wright-Phillips in, and Yossi Benayoun had wiped it out, his finish easier still after the hapless Joleon Lescott deflected David Ngog's pass into his path.
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