Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool: Mane keeps Reds hopes alive as title rivals fight out a thriller


Liverpool and Manchester City could not be separated in a Premier League title battle that lived up to its expectations on Sunday.
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Sadio Mane kept Liverpool in the Premier League title hunt with a priceless second-half equaliser in a gripping 2-2 draw with leaders Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's side sat 14 points behind City in January, but a 10-game winning run cut the gap to just one point to set up what many billed as a title decider at the Etihad Stadium.

Diogo Jota cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne's opener in an enthralling start, and Mane followed suit swiftly after the interval following Gabriel Jesus' 36th-minute strike.

Neither side could find a winner, with Raheem Sterling seeing a goal disallowed, as Pep Guardiola's home side kept their slender lead intact with seven games left to play.

Sterling squandered a glorious chance after five minutes as he was denied by the onrushing Alisson following a square Jesus pass, but City were ahead just seconds later.

De Bruyne profited from a quick Bernardo Silva free-kick before arrowing a left-footed effort home, the ball going in off the right post following a fortuitous deflection off Joel Matip.

Liverpool responded within eight minutes, with Andy Robertson finding Trent Alexander-Arnold, who played the ball back from the far post for Jota to squeeze a low strike under Ederson.

De Bruyne whipped narrowly wide in search of his second before Jesus latched onto a Joao Cancelo cross and coolly finished via the underside of the crossbar.

Mane levelled up within a minute of the second half getting under way, racing onto Mohamed Salah's throughball to slot powerfully past Ederson, who thwarted Jota's prodded effort shortly after.

Sterling thought he had nudged the hosts ahead again, but a VAR check showed the forward was offside when De Bruyne passed the ball, while Salah curled just off target at the other end.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez provided a late scare for the visitors as he clipped the post with a free-kick, and then chipped over after a sublime De Bruyne pass, but there would be no decisive goal.

What does it mean? All to play for

This result defied a trend for when the Premier League has seen its top two meet in the final 10 games of a season. In the last eight such meetings, prior to this, the team starting the day in second place had won seven times – including the last five in a row.

City, who have now not lost against Klopp's side in the last five Premier League meetings (W2 D3), seemed set to take the three points when they became the first team to lead Liverpool at half-time in the league this season, but Mane's composed finish means this race has a long way still to run.

Jesus haunts Reds again

De Bruyne's excellence was on show as he lashed in his sixth goal in as many games – netting in four games in a row for City in all competitions for the first time – before Jesus came to haunt Liverpool once more.

He has only scored more for City against Everton (eight) than against the Reds in all competitions (five), while this was the fourth time he has netted in the league against Klopp's side. Jamie Vardy (eight) and Harry Kane (six) are the only players to score more past Klopp's Reds.

Salah-Mane link-up delivers

Mane and Salah have combined for 21 Premier League goals for Liverpool, with only Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman coupling up for more (24).

While the Egypt forward has just one goal in his last eight games across all competitions, and has not scored in the league in open play since February 19, Klopp will be pleased with his forward's contributions amid ongoing contract negotiations.

Mane's goal was timed at coming just 46 seconds into the second half, catching City cold.

Key Opta facts

- Both Premier League games between City and Liverpool this season have ended as 2-2 draws, the first time they have shared a draw in both league meetings in a season since 2012-13.
- This game was the first time that Manchester City had scored first and not gone on to win in the Premier League this season; they had won all 22 games when scoring first previously.
- De Bruyne scored his 11th Premier League goal of the season, only netting more in one previous campaign (13 in 2019-20). Across all competitions, De Bruyne has scored in his last four matches for City, his longest run of consecutive scoring games for the club.
- Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold has assisted 44 Premier League goals, four more than any other player. His assist for Jota's goal was his first against City in the Premier League, meaning he has now registered at least one assist against all of Liverpool's 19 current Premier League rivals.
- Jesus scored his first Premier League goal for City since September against Chelsea, ending a run of 15 games and 37 shots at goal without finding the net. In all competitions, Jesus only has more goals against Everton (8) than he does against Liverpool (5) for City.
- Jota and Jesus both kept up their records of never losing in a Premier League game when they score – Jota is unbeaten in 33 matches (W27 D6) and Jesus in 45 (W42 D3), with only James Milner (54 games) and Darius Vassell (46) scoring in more without losing in Premier League history.
- Mane was celebrating his 30th birthday – he is only the second player in Premier League history to score on his birthday against a team starting the day top of the table, after Wayne Rooney in October 2004 against Arsenal on his 19th birthday.
- Liverpool scored just 46 seconds into the second half via Mane's goal – it was the first time the Reds had scored in the opening minute of the second half in a league game since January 2019 (Mohamed Salah vs Crystal Palace) and the first time City had conceded in the 46th minute in a Premier League game since November 2004 vs Norwich City, a Damien Francis goal.

What's next?

These teams will meet again in an FA Cup semi-final next Saturday. Before that, Liverpool and City face crucial second legs in midweek in their Champions League quarter-finals against Benfica and Atletico Madrid respectively.