Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 21 February 2010, 15:00 KO
City: Given (c), Bridge, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, de Jong, Barry, Ireland (Ibrahim 76), Wright-Phillips (Bellamy 69), Johnson, Adebayor
Unused: Taylor, Richards, Sylvinho, Touré, Santa Cruz
Referee: Peter Walton
Man of the Match: Joleon Lescott
City knew that a victory would put the visitors in real trouble in the race for fourth spot, but it was important for the home side not to end the game with nothing. And the game was certainly a tense affair that looked like both teams looked afraid to lose.
The best either side could offer was a cross from Gerrard that was well cleared by Kompany, before Wright-Phillips was marginally offside as Zabaleta tried to play him through. A series of Liverpool corners then came to nothing, as Agger nodded wide after the referee had made a controversial decision to award the flag kick, the ball appearing not to touch a City player on its way out from a Kuyt shot.
Johnson then overhit a cross from the left wing and Wright-Phillips did well to force a corner, after scrambling to keep it in. From the corner, though, Kompany couldn’t find a City shirt as he nodded the cross back and Liverpool cleared.
With 28 minutes gone, Gerrard cleared the bar with a left-footed effort from the edge of the box, before Kompany was penalised for a fair tackle as the home fans began to get riled with the referee.
Reina then comfortably caught a Johnson free-kick, after the left winger had been fouled by Mascherano, who earned himself a yellow card. An excellent City move just before the break finished with a Zabaleta effort being deflected wide by Adebayor, who was trying to flick the wayward effort towards goal.
Skrtel nearly nodded a corner into the net after the referee controversially awarded the kick, once again. Given had punched the preceding corner clear and Kuyt looked to have deflected Maxi’s shot wide, but the referee said it came last off a City player.
City started the second half the brighter, with Johnson winning a series of corners after Reina had punched the ball away and City had tried to return it into the box. Johnson then left Babel wondering what day of the week it was, blasting a driven cross straight into the Dutchman’s face from close range.
Ireland was then wrongly flagged offside, as the defender had played the ball backwards, but it didn’t matter as he couldn’t find the net with his one-on-one with Reina, as the visitors looked rattled.
Just after the hour mark, Adebayor had the best chance of the game, as he found space on the edge of the box and fired in a low drive towards the near post. Reina, though, reacted well to push it around the post.
Lescott then did well to clear a Gerrard centre, moments after Zabaleta had put in an important block to stop a Liverpool counter-attack, as Gerrard tried to find Babel on the left wing.
A blatant foul on Adam Johnson was then ignored by both the referee and the linesman, before Gareth Barry somehow avoided conceding a free kick for a clear foul on Kuyt.
Gerrard then tried his luck from long range after 73 minutes, but it was straight at Shay Given, who held on to the ball comfortably. It was an easy save for the City keeper, who hadn’t had too much to do.
With eight minutes to go, Kompany superbly dispossessed Torres in the box, before Carragher did the same to Adebayor at the other end, as both sides proved they weren’t going to let the game go lightly. Adebayor then looked to be fouled as he raced towards a Johnson through ball, but there was nothing doing from the referee.
A minute later, Adebayor should have scored after he robbed Skrtel of the ball in the box, but the defender was able to recover to get in a last ditch tackle as the big centre forward was about to pull the trigger.
A clear push on Adebayor in the box from a left wing free kick was ignored by the officials, before Barry was hacked down by Mascherano, who also went unpunished when he could have seen red.
The game ended with Liverpool on the front foot, pressing the City goal, after Lescott was dispossessed in midfield, but they couldn’t force another shot on Given’s goal. Both teams will have wanted to win, but a draw was the fair result.