LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Oct 3 – Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s pulsating 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday exhibited why he believes the Premier League is the best in the world.
The points were shared between the two sides that have dominated English football for the past four years after a breathless second-half that saw City twice come from behind having dominated the first 45 minutes.
Liverpool weathered that storm and hit the English champions with a sucker punch when Sadio Mane opened the scoring just before the hour mark.
Phil Foden levelled before Mohamed Salah looked to have won the game with a moment of individual brilliance as he jinked around four defenders before firing past Ederson.
However, Kevin De Bruyne’s shot that deflected in off Joel Matip nine minutes from time salvaged the point Guardiola’s men at least deserved.
“What a game! That is the reason the last years Man City and Liverpool were always there because we try to play in this way,” said Guardiola.
“That’s why the Premier League is the best. It was really great. Unfortunately we couldn’t win, but we didn’t lose.”
A share of the spoils leaves the title race tantalisingly poised with Liverpool a point behind leaders Chelsea and City two points off the top in third.
It could have been much worse for City as a 0-0 draw at home to Southampton two weeks ago left them three points off the top of the table ahead of two of the most daunting away trips in the Premier League either side of a Champions League trip to Paris Saint-Germain.
However, rather than being cut adrift from the contenders to take their title, they have laid down a marker in schooling Chelsea on their own patch last weekend and doing the same to Jurgen Klopp’s men for the majority of a thrilling contest.
“The way we played at Stamford Bridge, in Paris and today shows we are a great team,” added Guardiola.
Jurgen Klopp admitted he was happy to hear the half-time whistle as City failed to turn their dominance in the first 45 minutes into goals.
Alisson Becker twice saved one-on-ones with Foden, who also saw strong penalty appeals for a push by James Milner waived away, while De Bruyne headed over a glorious chance at the back post.
– Sucker punch –
But Klopp reorganised his troops at the break to turn the game into a far more competitive contest in the second-half.
“I was more than pleased when I heard the whistle for half time because we had to adjust a lot of things and we did,” said Klopp.
“Second-half was completely different. If we only played the second-half I would have loved to have win, but with the first half I am happy with the point.”
Mane hit City with the sucker punch as Salah skipped past Joao Cancelo and played in the Senegalese to slot calmly into the far corner.
Anfield was suddenly stirred and Liverpool’s players crashed into challenges in response as they didn’t allow City to get into the rhythm they enjoyed before the break.
However, one slick move from Guardiola’s men finally saw them find the net to level 21 minutes from time.
Gabriel Jesus skipped across the face of the Liverpool box before finding Foden, who this time drilled the ball low into Alisson’s far corner.
Guardiola was then infuriated as Milner avoided a second yellow card after chopping down Bernardo Silva.
And moments his later his mood soured even more when Salah’s stunning solo goal swung the game in Liverpool’s favour.
The Egyptian danced around Cancelo, Silva and Aymeric Laporte before firing on his weaker right foot high past Ederson.
Guardiola was then booked for taking his protests too far, but five minutes later he was screaming in celebration as De Bruyne’s effort from the edge of the box deflected in off Joel Matip.
Liverpool had the best chance to win the game in an end-to-end finale, but Rodri blocked Fabinho’s goal-bound effort after Ederson flapped at a free-kick.