Game in a sentence

Sergio Aguero’s brilliance salvages a point for Manchester City in an enthralling fixture at Etihad Stadium.

Observations

  • Pepe Reina made a terrible decision, but left Aguero with a lot to do. Once Reina committed –he did the right thing by going all in– it didn’t look possible. Shades of Kanu.
  • Five minutes before, an old gem from Steven Gerrard rekindled memories of the 2006 FA Cup final. The shot of  Liverpool’s fans behind Joe Hart’s goal was classic. They knew it was going in before Stevie G did. Hart’s wry smile after the goal said it all. ‘Once in a blue moon’ indeed.
  • Once again, Daniel Sturridge was terrific up front. He started early, taking on a great ball from Downing with deft footwork in the 13th minute. Pablo Zabaleta did well to recover.
  • Edin Dzeko opened the scoring in the 23th minute, exploiting Liverpool’s poor defense. Aguero was allowed to escape a triangle of opposing players, sliding the ball to James Milner on the flank. His low cross found Dzeko, unmarked, in the box. 1-0.
  • Minutes later the games most controversial moment took place. Daniel Agger’s foul on Dzeko –pretty clear– went unpunished by referee Anthony Taylor. With Dzeko crumpled on the ground, Liverpool pushed on as Milner called for the Reds to sent the ball out of play. I have no problems with Liverpool’s refusal to capitulate. The referee got it wrong. It happens. Dzeko was not seriously hurt. If anything, Taylor is to blame for telling D.S to play on.
  • Sturridge capitalized on the confusion, sending a screamer past Hart in 29th minute. The Birmingham native spent three years with City before leaving for Chelsea. He chose not to celebrate out of respect for his former club. This trend is the latest scourge to plague English football. Celebrate for your fans that traveled to see you. Celebrate for yourself. If Ryan Giggs joined Arsenal and scored against Manchester United I could understand why he wouldn’t. Sturridge is 23, not 40.
  • Liverpool was the better team for much of the match. Yaya Toure will be depressed when he  returns to England — Côte d’Ivoire fell to Nigeria earlier today– but City will be happy to see him. They missed Kompany and Toure a lot.
  • Brendan Rodgers is making progress. Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing do not look out of place. The tandem of Luis Suarez and Sturridge have an undeniable chemistry. The defense remains a question mark –Skrtel and Agger do not inspire confidence– and Pepe Reina’s precipitous fall from grace is concerning, but a foundation is being built. They haven’t beat a team in the top half yet, but it will come with more performances like these.
  • Roberto Mancini post game: “Today we were so nervous, I don’t know why… [it's] 13 games to the end, so no, no [it's not over yet].” Milner called the draw a fair result. 13 games to make up nine points is not impossible. It is, however, unlikely.
  • Brendan Rodgers: “We have come to home of champions and dominated. We know we can be better.” We have come to the home of champions and dominated. Normally I would poke fun at B-Rodg for the hyperbole, but he was right. Liverpool should’ve got six points from their games against City this year. Full credit.

 Three stars

1. Daniel Sturridge

2. Steven Gerrard

3. James Milner