- Match reports
- Sun 30 Dec 2007, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
City made two changes to the side that started against Blackburn, with Hamann replacing Gelson Fernandes to partner Vedran Corluka in midfield, and Elano was back instead of Rolando Bianchi, with Darius Vassell up front.
Liverpool made five changes to the side that was named against Derby on Boxing Day, with Alvaro Arbeloa, Javier Mascherano, Harry Kewell, Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt all coming in.
Both sides sported black armbands in memory of Motherwell’s Phil O’Donnell, who had tragically collapsed and died the previous afternoon.
Elano created the day’s first good chance on eight minutes, weaving into Liverpool area before Ireland’s volley rebounded to Vassell, whose header was deflected just wide from a corner, which Richard Dunne glanced across the face of goal.
Petrov went on another one of his mazy runs down the left flank four minutes later to set up Elano, but the Brazilian’s effort was blocked for another corner. City fans howled for a handball when Petrov’s ball struck Torres, but Uriah Rennie immediately indicated that it had hit the Liverpool striker’s chest.
Steven Gerrard had the Reds’ first shot in anger after 21 minutes, but his left-footed attempt ended nearer to the corner flag than to Joe Hart’s goal. Micah Richards timed a challenge to perfection to block a Kuyt shot on 24 minutes, and Joe Hart was right behind a Kewell blast from an angle seconds afterwards.
Elano tried one with the outside of his left boot on 27 as the game became livelier, but an expert block from Jamie Carragher kept the scores level. Aurelio’s long range volley bent just wide on the half hour, although Hart looked to have it covered. The England Under 21 denied Aurelio shortly after, fingertipping a fierce drive just over the bar.
Benayoun had the last chance of an entertaining half, putting his shot from outside the box wide as he slipped over in the process.
Torres began the second half by spurning two good chances within seconds of each other. Firstly, his tapped shot from close range went straight at Hart, then his attempt from outside the area rolled just inches wide of the post as Dunne & Richards raced back towards the line. Steven Gerrard drilled a free kick just wide a minute later as City hung in.
Joe Hart denied Benayoun just before the hour, the Israeli’s first time shot from outside the box being tipped just over the bar. Hart denied the former West Ham man 10 minutes later, this time from a low shot from a tight angle, this seconds after Rolando Bianchi had replaced Elano to a huge ovation from the home fans.
The Italian had them on their feet on 78 minutes, crossing from the left towards Petrov, but a good move came to nothing as Liverpool’s defence cleared the danger.
The away bench were off their feet a minute later when Torres went to ground all too easily under pressure from Richard Dunne, referee Rennie ignoring claims for a free kick and a card. They felt hard done to when he awarded a free kick for Arbeloa’s hauling back of Bianchi as the Blues moved upfield.
Torres earned the day’s first booking for leaving his foot in when challenging Micah Richards. Babel was denied by a superb Onuoha-Dunne pincer movement on the by line, then the City skipper saved the day at the resulting corner. Kuyt forced a brilliant save from Hart, whose parry was then hooked away from under the bar by the big Irishman, who had been immense all afternoon.
It was all Liverpool in a hectic last few minutes, but they could not make their pressure count and the Blues came away with a valuable point and their unbeaten home record intact.
mcfc.co.uk man of the match: Richard Dunne – another awesome display from the skipper, who marshalled his troops and blunted the visitors’ attack.