Alexander-Arnold earns Liverpool draw against Manchester City

Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates after his 80th-minute equaliser for Liverpool. Photograph: Getty Images

Trent Alexander-Arnold did more than help to create a small piece of history and deny Manchester City a bigger one. When the Liverpool right- back hammered a lovely shot from distance past Ederson and into the far corner, he signalled his team’s readiness to go the distance in the Premier League title race.

City had won every game here in 2023 – a run of 23 matches in all competitions. It is now over. One more victory and they would have equalled the record of an English top-flight club, set by Sunderland between 1890 and 1892. It was not to be.

Erland Haaland scored their goal midway through the first half – of course he did. It meant he reached 50 in the Premier League from just 48 appearances, the fastest to the mark; Andy Cole had taken 65 games to get there. Haaland would almost pinch victory in the eighth and final minute of stoppage time, rising to meet a corner only to flick just wide and, in the end, it was a day when City let Liverpool off the hook.

They were the better team, they created the bigger chances and the regrets belonged to them, not least when the referee, Chris Kavanagh, contentiously ruled that Manuel Akanji had fouled Alisson at a 68th-minute corner before Rúben Dias tapped home. It was a soft decision.

Alexander-Arnold had said beforehand that Liverpool absolutely believed they could end City’s dominance and win the league. Now came the action to back it up. They were not at their swarming, marauding best and Jürgen Klopp would repeat his complaint about the 12.30pm kick-off after an international break. How was he supposed to prepare for the most difficult game of the season with one training session, he wanted to know.

But his team found a way towards the end of a second half in which they had competed on a more equal footing, having got tighter to the sky blue shirts and the image of the afternoon was that of Alexander-Arnold shushing the City fans. He took a pass from Mohamed Salah to the right of goal and, with Bernardo Silva and Julián Álvarez slow to close down, he pulled the trigger in some style.

Klopp would find himself ushering his striker Darwin Núñez away from the City manager, Pep Guardiola, at full time after the pair had clashed. It was nothing serious. More worrying for Klopp was the injury that forced Diogo Jota from the field and also the one Alisson felt at the very end.

Erling Haaland fires Manchester City into a first-half lead. Photograph: Tom Jenkins

A feature of the early running had been Alisson’s discomfort on the ball. He dragged one clearance straight at Phil Foden and was fortunate the City winger shot straight at him.

It was a mis-hit Alisson clearance that led to the City goal, the ball looping up and down on to Nathan Aké’s foot midway inside the Liverpool half, although there was still plenty for him to do. Aké did it, slaloming inside Alexander-Arnold and Dominik Szoboszlai before slipping a pass up to Haaland, who went into his muscle memory. One touch, then another, unload for the far corner. Alisson got a hand to it but he could only help it in. He beat the ground in frustration. He knew.

City wanted to get at Alexander-Arnold through Jérémy Doku. It was clear from the first minute. With Akanji stepping into midfield from centre-half, Silva drifted towards the left, trying to create an overload to further examine the player who would finish as the Liverpool hero. It was certainly not easy for Alexander-Arnold in a defensive sense.

Akanji was excellent, ditto Rodri while Silva showed off magical flicks and bursts. Some of City’s moves up and out from the back took the breath and they almost got a second goal before the interval. Álvarez, though, overcooked a cross for Haaland after a Doku break while Alisson snaked out a hand to push away a Foden shot.

Klopp did not like Liverpool’s body language in the first half, when they were second best in too many areas. They did flicker, most obviously when Núñez directed a 15th-minute header goalwards from a Salah cross after an imperious run by Joël Matip. Ederson made a smart save. It was nearly but not quite throughout for Núñez. Szoboszlai also had a shot blocked by Dias in the 20th minute.

The game could have been up for Liverpool when Doku blazed away from Alexis Mac Allister early in the second half to cut back for Álvarez; he lifted wastefully over. Or when Dias had the ball in the net after Alisson flapped at a corner. The pressure from Akanji was minimal but Kavanagh spared Alisson, ruling that it was enough to have put him off.