Joe Hart produced a brilliant display against Liverpool as ten-man City held on for 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Though the Blues had chances to score again, Mario Balotelli’s late sending off meant it was backs-to-the wall stuff for the last ten minutes – and ultimately it was Hart’s heroics that preserved City’s unbeaten start to the season.
With just two wins in 42 visits to Anfield, this is hardly a fixture City have looked forward to over the years
...Liverpool 1 City 1.
So often, in fact, have the Blues returned from Merseyside with nothing more than a chastising defeat that many supporters have annually written the match off before it was even played.
Not anymore. Those days are, hopefully, now consigned to history, but nonetheless – this was always going to be a stiff test of City’s title credentials.
Former City favourite Craig Bellamy withdrew from the squad following the tragic death of Wales boss Gary Speed and the one minute silence was impeccably observed by the sell-out crowd.
A few of the Liverpool players had been talking up the meeting between the teams in the Press - as you’d expect - with the odd line of ‘especially when you think of the money they’ve spent’ – or quotes to that effect.
If they were accurate, the fact is there was very little difference in terms of transfer fees paid between the two starting XIs – but such trivialities don’t make good headlines and as Mark Twain once said, “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.”
City started well with patient, controlled build-up play during the first half-hour, orchestrated, as ever, by David Silva
...Liverpool 1 City 1
The Blues were the better team and on 31 minutes, that pressure was rewarded when Kompany rose to meet David Silva's corner and knock it past Pepe Reina in emphatic style – albeit via his shoulder!
However, the celebrations were cut short in the cruellest of circumstances with Lescott wafting out a leg and deflecting a wayward Charlie Adam shot past a stranded Hart for a Liverpool equaliser within less than 90 seconds.
The hosts, buoyed by the goal, then almost went ahead after Jordan Henderson and Glenn Johnson both went close, but Aguero also could have restored the Blues’ lead seconds before the break.
With Luis Suarez giving a good impression of a dying swan under almost every challenge, as well as asking Martin Atkinson to show a yellow card to his tormentors, the City players’ patience was being tested at times.
Barry, Kompany and Balotelli found their way into the official’s notebook while Skrtel and Henderson’s persistent fouling went unpunished – as did the infuriating fawnings of Suarez. Barry now faces a one-match suspension as the result of his caution.
Liverpool gave a much stronger showing after half-time and were the better team for long periods, going close several times - the misfiring Dirk Kuyt was guilty of a hat-trick of misses
...Liverpool 1 City 1
In a frantic last ten minutes, Balotelli was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Skrtel, reducing the Blues to ten men, though Silva still had a chance to grab all three points but with just Reina to beat, took too long to fire a weak shot towards goal.
Hart then made two stunning saves in succession at the death to preserve a hard-earned point for City – but a welcome 47th birthday present for Mancini nonetheless.