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Pep Guardiola says Manchester City held off ‘tsunami’ to earn draw at Liverpool

LIVERPOOL — Pep Guardiola said Manchester City survived a second-half “tsunami” from Liverpool to secure a 1-1 draw that leaves three sides separated by just one point at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal lead the way on goal difference from Liverpool with defending champions City just one point back in third.

Guardiola is still to win in front of a crowd at Anfield as City’s only victory stretching back to 2003 remains in a behind closed doors clash in 2021.

However, the visitors were the happier to escape with a point after Liverpool laid siege to the City goal after Alexis Mac Allister’s penalty cancelled out John Stones’ first-half opener.

The final Premier League clash between Jurgen Klopp and Guardiola did not disappoint as Liverpool roared back in a breathless second half despite being depleted by injury.

Klopp’s men could have regrets if they do not go on to break City’s run of three consecutive titles, though, as they missed a plethora of chances to secure a crucial win and were controversially denied a second penalty deep into stoppage time.

“I think that is a game that defined what both clubs have been for many years,” said Guardiola. “Sooner or later in this stadium it is like a tsunami!”

A share of the spoils leaves Arsenal as the winners of the weekend as eight consecutive league victories have taken the Gunners top, but they travel to City in their next league match on March 31.

But Klopp is confident his side will emerge infused with more belief they can deliver the title in his final season after leaving City hanging on after the break.

“Today I saw the best 53 minutes (second half) we had against Manchester City. It was exceptional how we played,” said Klopp.

“They were some of the best moments of my coaching career that we were able to do that against them.

“The only thing I need at the moment is that we are really in that race. On our performance today, I saw a team that is in the right position – now let’s see what we can do.”

Mohamed Salah was only fit enough for a place on the Liverpool bench alongside Andy Robertson, while Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate and Diogo Jota were absent through injury.

For a much-anticipated clash between two of the world’s best teams, both goals came from simple defensive errors.

Liverpool were caught napping from a Kevin De Bruyne corner on 23 minutes and Stones’ effort had too much power for Caoimhin Kelleher.

The Reds recovered impressively after also receiving a gift-wrapped equaliser from the visitors at the start of the second half.

Darwin Nunez pounced on Nathan Ake’s short backpass and was cleaned out by Ederson.

Mac Allister was cool despite a long delay for Ederson to get treatment, that eventually forced him to be replaced by Stefan Ortega, and fired his penalty into the top corner.

Liverpool then poured forward as City were left clinging on.

Salah and Robertson were introduced on the hour mark and the Egyptian nearly had an instant impact.

Luis Diaz sliced a glorious chance wide when played clean through by Salah’s pass.

Kyle Walker’s last-ditch intervention denied Diaz once more before Salah flashed a shot wide.

Ortega then had to be quick off his line to smother a shot from Nunez.

Guardiola responded by sacrificing Julian Alvarez and Kevin De Bruyne, much to the chagrin of the Belgian who made his feelings known to his manager.

“I like it if he’s upset, it’s good,” said Guardiola. “The game was not in our hands and I wanted something to give the game back to us a little bit.”

The introduction of Mateo Kovacic and Jeremy Doku steadied the City ship and could have even gone on to snatch it.

Erling Haaland was kept exceptionally quiet by Virgil van Dijk, but he picked out Doku who fired off the inside of the post in the final minute of the 90.

Liverpool were screaming for a second penalty deep into eight minutes of added time when Doku’s high foot caught Mac Allister.

But neither referee Michael Oliver nor VAR were interested and the title race was left tantalisingly poised. — AFP