Liverpool bounced back from a horrendous start to their season with a superb performance at Anfield against Manchester City.
Martin Skrtel slammed a header home in the first half, before Yaya Toure equalised after a defensive mix-up in the 63rd minute.
However City’s relief was short-lived as livewire striker Luis Suarez bent a free kick round the wall to give Liverpool the lead again just three minutes later.
But Liverpool fell victim to another defensive error in the 80th minute when Martin Skrtel hit a backpass straight to the feet of Carlos Tevez, who rounded Pepe Reina to equalise.
It was a real advert for the premier league, with both sides threatening throughout the game.
Liverpool will feel they should have come away victorious, having played significantly better than they did the week before away to West Brom. They held the champions within arms length for the majority of the match through a combination of clever, accurate passing and movement when in possession and fantastically committed pressing when off it.
Meanwhile Manchester City struggled to get into their rhythm in what proved to be a fascinating game that offered encouragement to both teams.
Below are the player ratings for everyone who featured.
Pepe Reina – 7.0
Succeeded with the majority of the things that were thrown at him, but flapped at several crosses, including one that led to the goal. Elsewhere his distribution was excellent, showing himself to be a true advocate of the Brendan Rodgers philosophy, passing it out well when under pressure.
Glen Johnson – 8.0
Excelled once again in his unfavoured left back position. Got forward well in support of Raheem Sterling, linking up and communicating with the teenager well. Always excellent in his distribution and running with the ball, the one blot on the England man’s performance was his slowness at getting over to stop Tevez delivering the cross for the first goal, but throughout the game he was solid defensively.
Martin Skrtel -7.5
Everyone makes mistakes. Martin Skrtel’s backpass that gifted City an equaliser will haunt the defender for a while, but the fact is his performance was fantastic beforehand. A powerhouse in defence, winning every challenge both in the air and on the ground, Skrtel marshalled the back four well in the absence of Daniel Agger. Scored a bullet header to give Liverpool the lead.
Sebastian Coates – 7.5
A surprise inclusion at the back for Liverpool, the Uruguayan did himself no harm on his first appearance under Rodgers. Dived in a couple of times unnecessarily, but was otherwise good on the ball and strong in the challenge. His height proved a real advantage and he cleared several crosses away, as well as making some great tackles.
Martin Kelly – 6.5
Defended fairly well but looked a little bit leggy when going forward. Reacted poorly for the Toure goal but was otherwise mistake free. Distributed the ball well and went on a fantastic run down the right side at one point, but offered little else going forward.
Lucas – N/A
Liverpool will be sweating on news of the Brazilian after he was forced off with a thigh injury after just 5 minutes.
Joe Allen – 9.0
The best performer on the day by a mile. Allen buzzed around the midfield and showed an unerring ability to find a teammate, no matter how much pressure he was under. Made plenty of great passes but knew when to keep it simple. He completed an impressive 94% of his passes, more than any player on the pitch, and excelled defensively as well, making 6 interceptions and several key tackles. If he continues like this, he could be a very important player for Liverpool this season due to his ability to keep the ball.
Steven Gerrard – 7.0
Looked leggy towards the end of the game and got several easy passes wrong. However he pressed brilliantly throughout along with his teammates and did play a couple of marvellous crossfield passes. Perhaps not as much of an attacking threat as many would have liked due to the injury to Lucas early on in the game.
Fabio Borini – 6.5
An improvement on his performance against West Brom, but still lacking the kind of quick link-up play and intelligence exhibited by the rest of the side. Snatched at an early chance and failed to make too much of an impression on the ball. To his credit, he worked extremely hard pressing the defence and won the ball back in City’s half a couple of times.
Raheem Sterling – 8.0
Nobody expected the 17 year old starlet to be included in such a big match, but Brendan Rodgers made a great decision by putting him in. Sterling gave Kolo Toure and his defensive cohorts a terrible time for the majority of the game with unpredictable and skillful dribbling, showing no sign of nerves whatsoever. His first touch was excellent and he linked up well with his fellow strikers.A real prospect.
Luis Suarez – 8.0
It seems that he can’t score the easy goals, but when the Uruguayan does net, it’s usually something special. Today was no different as he bent an absolutely sublime free kick around the wall for what should have been a deserved winner. Caused City’s defence problems all day with his direct style and quick feet, although he was foolish to be booked for arguing with the referee late in the game.
Jonjo Shelvey (Lucas, 4′) – 7.0
Filled the big shoes of Lucas Leiva well, offering a good attacking threat throughout. Passed the ball well, both short and long and nearly won the game with a left footed drive in the dying moments.
Jose Enrique (Kelly, 66′) – 6.0
Andy Carroll (Borini, 83′) – 5.5
Joe Hart – 7.0
Couldn’t really have done anything about either goal. Made a couple of routine saves throughout the game although the majority of his kicks went long and straight back to Liverpool
Kolo Toure – 5.0
Not sure why he was included ahead of Joleon Lescott, but the defender didn’t do himself any favours here. Was tortured by Sterling for the majority of the game and looked shell-shocked by the pace of Liverpool’s attack. Made a couple of good challenges but overall, struggled.
Vincent Kompany – 7.5
No surprise here as the captain led by example. Made several crucial blocks and tackles despite the fact he was left isolated against Suarez far too often. If it wasn’t for him Liverpool could have scored more, but he was solid and mistake-free at the back, and composed on the ball.
Pablo Zabaleta – 6.5
Played Fabio Borini out of the game for the majority of the match with tough and tight defending. However, when he moved into the centre he found Luis Suarez a vastly more difficult man to stop, letting himself get beaten a few times.
Nigel De Jong – 6.5
A steady if not stellar performance from the Dutchman. Used the ball simply and provided a good foil for the roaming Yaya Toure. However his attempts to win the ball and interrupt Liverpool’s quick passing often left him out of position, leaving a whole between the midfield and defence that Liverpool exploited well.
Yaya Toure – 7.0
Much better in the second half, he was an influential part of City’s threat on goal. Took his goal coolly and used the ball well, however did not get a chance to do any of his usual powerful running due to the work rate and pressing of the opposition midfield.
James Milner – 6.0
Did very little on the ball to cause any kind of a threat to Liverpool. Did his typical shift of hard work and good covering, but rarely looked to do anything incisive or dangerous, staying rather anonymous throughout.
Alexsander Kolarov – 5.5
Was foolish to let Martin Skrtel have a yard of space in the area when awaiting a corner, and was punished immediately. Offered little in an attacking sense and was left chasing shadows for the majority of the game defensively.
Samir Nasri – 5.5
A rather anonymous performance that has become unfortunately typical of Nasri in his Manchester City career. After performing excellently last week against Southampton, he looked bereft of confidence and flitted in and out of the game. Aside from one round the corner pass to Tevez and one dangerous run, he contributed little and it was no surprise when he was substituted.
Mario Balotelli – 5.5
They say you get two sides with Super Mario. Today he showed the lazy, disinterested side that has slowed his career so many times. Did very little to get involved with play and went long periods without touching the ball, although showed glimpses of what he can do when he did get it.
Carlos Tevez – 8.0
The Argentinian almost single-handedly drove City through this match, hitting the post early on and capping a committed and dangerous performance with a well taken goal at the end of it. His movement proved difficult to track and he was direct and unpredictable when on the ball.
Jack Rodwell (Nasri, 60′) – 6.0
Edin Dzeko (Balotelli, 62′) – 5.5
David Silva (Milner, 76′) – 6.0
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