Hart saves City from defeat by Liverpool

Liverpool 1 Manchester City 1

Ten-man Manchester City survived a serious examination of their
title credentials to extend their unbeaten Barclays Premier League
record to 13 matches at Anfield.

Had it not been for goalkeeper Joe Hart the visitors may have tasted a league defeat for the first time since May 7.

They barely had time to celebrate Vincent Kompany's 31st-minute opener before Charlie Adam's shot was deflected in by Joleon Lescott.

In the second half substitute Mario Balotelli lasted 18 minutes before being sent off for a second bookable offence and had England international Hart not been on top form City would have succumbed to sustained Liverpool pressure in the final 20 minutes.

Having coasted serenely through the domestic campaign, scoring goals at will, this was the first time this season Roberto Mancini's side had failed to score more than once in a league match.

Credit must go to Liverpool who, after a slow start, enhanced their own reputation as genuine top-four contenders with a second-half performance which produced everything but a winning goal.

City may have previously won only once at Anfield in the last 30 years - and that in May 2003 - but they played the first half like they were the home team.

They passed the ball around with consummate ease, as they have done all season, with both Samir Nasri and David Silva threading threatening balls down the side of the two centre-backs.

Liverpool tried to employ the same high, pressing tactics which were so effective in last week's victory at Chelsea and it worked to some degree.

For all City's neat triangles and movement off the ball they did not really threaten and the closest they came was when they were gifted an opportunity by Jose Enrique's backpass.

The Spaniard was obviously unsighted when he rolled a ball too close to Sergio Aguero but Jose Reina raced 15 yards out of his penalty area to first block and then, after the ball rebounded off the Argentinian back onto his arm, clear.

Aguero was doing his best to unlock what is becoming an increasingly frugal Liverpool defence and he twisted past Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger with ease on the left of the area but bamboozled himself and lost balance.

Ironically, considering the silky attacking skills at their disposal, the visitors took a 31st-minute lead from an old-fashioned corner routine.

Silva swung in a left-footed cross and centre-back Kompany glanced a header into the far corner after marker Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson got in each other's way.

That is usually the key for Mancini's side to go into attacking overdrive but within two minutes they found themselves pegged back as indecision and a bad decision cost them.

Kompany's weak clearance dropped to Kuyt who squared for Adam to unleash a left-footed drive which was heading wide until Lescott tried to clear and succeeded only in diverting past Hart.

If he was helpless to stop that shot the England goalkeeper showed his quality as he stuck out a leg to brilliantly divert Adam's right-footed shot over.

Suddenly the momentum was with the Reds and Johnson, last week's match-winner, flashed a left-footed shot past Hart's right-hand post.

Reina saved low from Aguero in first-half added time but the open football continued after the break as Stewart Downing's cross ballooned up off Kompany and Kuyt's diving header missed the target.

The languid, measured play of the first half had been replaced by a more frenetic approach after the break, evidenced by Hart's hurried punch to Downing's cross.

Hart did better with his England team-mate's shot into the turf from Adam's corner, tipping over just as the ball was about to dip under the crossbar.

The increasingly manic atmosphere hardly needed enhancing but the arrival of Balotelli for Nasri did exactly that.

Right on cue the Italian produced a comedic stumble, a fraction of a second after Skrtel had slipped trying to reach the ball, just when he was about to burst into the penalty area.

Liverpool had steadily grown more comfortable over the course of the game and they had the momentum entering the final 20 minutes.

Enrique and Downing shot wide before Balotelli's propensity for getting himself in trouble surfaced late on.

Having been booked for pulling back Johnson, he was shown a second yellow card for catching Skrtel across the face.

Hart kept his side in it with another good save at his near post from Luis Suarez before Silva over-complicated things in Liverpool's area having beaten Reina and Skrtel cleared off the line.

But Hart was the one being worked the hardest and another brilliant one-handed save from Andy Carroll's header in added time preserved City's unbeaten start.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment