Liverpool 1:1 Leicester City
City dented Liverpool’s title hopes taking a well-earned point from Anfield on Wednesday night…
Claude Puel made three changes for this icy midweek trip to Fortress Anfield with Simpson, Morgan and Barnes replaced by Evans, Albrighton and Gray.
The heavy snowfall ceased around kick off time, but still made for tricky conditions, holding up the ball when it was played along the ground.
However, this didn’t stop Liverpool from taking a 3rd minute lead while City were still trying to find their bearings. Mané received a pass from Robertson and swerved his way through City’s back-line before curling a low shot into the bottom right hand corner.
With Liverpool looking determined to cash in on Man City’s defeat at Newcastle it looked as though this could be a long night for City’s followers. Three minutes later Firmino forced a good save from Schmeichel and Mané headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.
After this shaky start City got their act together and there were penalty appeals when Maddison was brought down by Henderson after a poor pass out from Alisson. It looked as though the trip had occurred a yard outside the area, but City didn’t even get a free-kick. City then threatened to break again and Matip had to take a yellow card for blocking Vardy as he raced past him.
City should have capped a good spell with an equaliser in the 25th minute. Another eccentric clearance from Alisson led to Albrighton whipping a cross over from the right.
Maddison was lurking, unmarked at the far post but his header went horribly wrong and he sent the ball across goal instead of into the net.
Four minutes later Maddison wasted a free-kick from a decent position, sending it sailing into the Kop.
City were winning the midfield battle at this stage and as they continued to press forward a few crosses were delivered, but nothing got past van Dijk.
Liverpool threatened in the 36th minute when Mané set up Salah, but his shot was blocked by Chilwell’s leg. The huge shouts of ‘HANDBALL!’ perhaps betraying the nerves of the home support.
Four minutes before the break Robertson attempted to play Mané through but Maguire clipped his heels close to the halfway line. Referee Martin Atkinson only produced a yellow, with the proximity of Evans meaning Maguire wasn’t the ‘last man’.
As the half entered injury time City struck back with the goal their performance had deserved. Robertson fouled Ricardo needlessly down the right. Maddison’s free-kick was half cleared to Ndidi who had his shot blocked. Chilwell sent a lofted header to towards the far post where Maguire nipped in behind van Dijk to sidefoot past Alisson from close range.
The Liverpool ground staff spent the interval clearing the remaining snow from the Kop End which Liverpool would be attacking, another indicator of how desperate they were to open up that gap on Man City and claim their first title in 29 years.
But on the field they were looking nervy and City went close in the 52nd minute. The lively Ricardo was fouled again and Maddison delivered the free-kick. Maguire nodded it down at the far post and the ball almost went in off Firmino, Alisson producing a fine reaction save.
At the other end Keita, exchanged a one-two with Firmino but went over as he took his shot. Replays showed Ricardo standing on his foot, but fortunately Martin Atkinson didn’t point to the spot.
Liverpool had most of the possession but looked very flat going forward and City threatened on the break in the 73rd minute. Vardy raced upfield and sent Gray in down the left, but he elected to shoot too soon giving Alisson an easy save with Maddison arriving unmarked in the middle.
A minute later Firmino forced a good save from Schmeichel and Matip headed wide from the resulting corner.
Claude Puel then decided it was time to tighten things up, bringing Choudhury on for Maddison.
Liverpool were looking increasingly desperate as time ticked by, Robertson sent a shot well over and Salah hit a free-kick straight into the wall.
Then Choudhury produced a fine tackle to halt Mané’s progress down the middle before
two late substitutions saw Okazaki and Iheanacho on for Gray and Vardy.
Liverpool didn’t manage to mount any late pressure, with a couple of crosses and a corner being dealt with and the final whistle brought a very well-earned point from a fine City performance.
Claude Puel was slightly disappointed with a point: “I think it is a good performance. I have a little regret at the end because we had some fantastic chances at the beginning of the second half. We started slowly and conceded a goal but after we showed fantastic character and personality. We put them under pressure at the beginning of the second half and in this period we have to be more clinical.”
Liverpool: Alisson, Henderson, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Keita (Lallana 66), Shaqiri (Fabinho 67), Firmino (Sturridge 82), Mané, Salah.
Substitutes: Lovren, Mignolet, Origi, Camacho.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Gray (Okazaki 84), Mendy, Ndidi, Maddison (Choudhury 75), Albrighton, Vardy (Iheanacho 90).
Substitutes: Simpson, Morgan, Ward, Barnes.
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Attendance: 53,092.
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