Sergio Aguero bailed out Manchester City at home against Liverpool, equalising in the 69th minute to ensure their English Premier League tie at the Etihad Stadium ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday night.
Both sides came into the game desperately seeking a win after underwhelming in the season so far, but arguably the home side were feeling the pressure the most after their exit from the UEFA Champions League in midweek.
As a result, City manager Pep Guardiola sent out his strongest possible line-up, with Sergio Aguero leading the line in a 4-5-1 formation.
Jurgen Klopp sent out Liverpool in their standard 4-3-3, with Roberto Firmino again playing as the central striker. Emre Can continued his run of starts in the absence of skipper Jordan Henderson and while Dejan Lovren was available, Klopp chose to go with the central defensive pairing of Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip.
City began the match the stronger of the sides and should have taken the lead early on after Leroy Sane had tormented Nathaniel Clyne on the wing before seeing his shot saved from an acute angle by Simon Mignolet. The resulting ball fell kindly to David Silva, but the Spaniard just couldnt keep his volley down.
Minutes later, City were given a reprieve of their own, with Yaya Toure sliding in on Emre Can with his boot raised and actually striking the Reds midfielder on his shoulder. Referee Michael Oliver could have sent him off, but chose to caution the Ivorian instead, much to the relief of the home crowd.
City continued to search for the opener and very nearly had it when Silva sent in a low cross from the left which somehow managed to elude Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling. While Fernandinho managed to get a touch the far post, the Brazilian was could only graze the side netting.
At half-time, Liverpool were firmly on the back foot, unable to test City goalkeeper Willy Caballero with anything of note and Klopp must have given his players a talking to, for they were more dominant side as the second half started.
And when Can found Firmino inside the box with a raking ball from deep, City full-back Gael Clichy panicked and tried to barge the Brazilian off the ball, leaving referee Michael Oliver with no choice but to point to the spot.
Ex-City midfielder James Milner, Liverpool’s designated penalty taker, stepped up and sent Caballero the wrong way to give the away side a vital lead in the 51st minute.
The home side took their own sweet time to respond, playing the patient possession game and never looking hurried with the ball even as the clock ticked on. And they got rewarded for their patience in the 69th minute, when Kevin De Bruyne sent in a low cross for Aguero to guide home from the first post. The Argentine hitman, quiet for majority of the game, struck at a crucial juncture to continue his fine scoring record against Liverpool.
What followed post the equaliser was a frantic final 15 minutes as both sides upped the tempo, opening up the game in the process but somehow were unable to add to the score.
Aguero was guilty of two misses, the first when he had made a brilliant run into the box, aided by a deft back heel from Sane but somehow lost his balance just when he was about to finish. De Bruyne hit the post in the ensuing chaos but it was a squandered chance at the other end that sparked disbelief.
Firmino had deftly laid it on a plate for Lallana following Giorginio Wijnaldum’s clipped pass, but the Englishman somehow miscued his volley from six yards out.
The game wasn't finished and City had one final chance but Aguero somehow skied a volley over the bar after some good work from De Bruyne on the right to ensure both teams got a point each.
With the result, City remain in third place, two points behind second-placed Tottenham Hotspur with Liverpool a point behind the Sky Blues in fourth place. While it wasn’t the result the teams would have wanted ahead of the International break, a draw was probably the fair result.