But it was Adam Lallana who should have scored the decisive goal, the England worldwide somehow mishitting his shot from eight yards after sublime Liverpool build-up play as both teams lost ground on Tottenham Hotspur in the race for the second – with Manchester United now just four points behind Jurgen Klopp’s fourth-placed side.
During an attack-fuelled showdown in which both sides were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances, City claimed a point as Sergio Aguero cancelled out James Milner’s penalty for the Reds.
Guardiola was delighted with the response of his players after the disappointment of their Champions League last-16 exit following a 3-1 loss at Monaco on Wednesday.
Nigerian forward Kelechi Iheanacho was an unused substitute in the game. “We arrived here against Liverpool, who haven’t had European football and had all week to prepare, and how we fight and how we run and how we showed spirit”, he added. Raheem Sterling had the better of Milner on numerous occasions and he, as well as Klavan, was lucky to not concede a penalty kick in the first half.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could not watch as James Milner placed the ball on the spot against Manchester City, ostentatiously turning away from the pitch with his arms folded, but he needn’t have anxious. Like all matches, we create more chances but this is our problem, our problem is we don’t score goals.
Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, called into the England squad last week, gave them some concern by pulling a goal back but Tottenham held on to stand 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 10 games to play.
Lallana then passed up an open goal, as he failed to make contact when Firmino fed him just eight yards out, with the City defence pulled apart.
“You can not imagine. It is one of happiest days of my career as a manager. To achieve the big targets you have to be clinical”, said Guardiola.
The changes seemed to do City good effect, as they unsettled Liverpool in the opening period of the game.
Manchester City host Liverpool this afternoon in the headline fixture of the Premier League weekend.
“It’s another “nearly” for us and we have had too many “nearlys” on the road”, said Dyche.
“Give me a few hours and then I’m happy”, he said.
It wasn’t until the 50th minute that things really swung in any one particular side’s favour.
The cracking clash would end all-square, a result which sees City and Liverpool stay in third and fourth respectively.