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Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Sunday, 22 February 2009

Liverpool 1-1 Man City

By Mandeep Sanghera

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres shows his disappointment during the draw with Man City
Torres did his best to inspire the Reds but ultimately failed

Liverpool's title hopes were dealt a severe blow as they were held to a draw by Manchester City at Anfield.

City broke the deadlock when former Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy's shot was deflected in off Alvaro Arbeloa.

A poor Liverpool had rarely threatened but levelled when Dirk Kuyt poked home after a Yossi Benayoun cross.

Shay Given saved a powerful Benayoun strike in a frantic finish but the Reds failed to get a winner and trail Manchester United by seven points.

Liverpool have now drawn six and won seven at home, while United have drawn just one and won 12 at Old Trafford.

It is a telling statistic, revealing the story of Liverpool's failure to break down visitors to Anfield and, with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso missing, their lack of squad strength and creativity compared to United's was also highlighted.

Benitez not giving up title race yet

The Merseysiders had gone into the game with the pressure of knowing anything less than a win would have delivered a damaging blow to their title aspirations after United beat Blackburn on Saturday.

The gravity of Liverpool's situation was hard to tell from the majority of their play as they struggled to find any sort of rhythm or fluency.

City have won just once away from home in the league this season but were looking comfortable from the start and should have taken the lead through Stephen Ireland.

He had intercepted a stray Javier Mascherano pass and released Robinho on the right with a long diagonal ball before making a run into the Liverpool box.

The Brazilian found Ireland at the far post but the City midfielder's shot lacked conviction as he tamely sidefooted straight at keeper Jose Reina.


Liverpool's play was laboured and predictable and they lacked a player in the mould of the injured Gerrard to to take the game by the scruff of the neck and inspire their play.

Striker Fernando Torres tried his best to fill the Gerrard void as he set up chances that he would have relished for Albert Riera and Benayoun.

But Riera dragged a shot wide and Benayoun put his effort into the crowd to sum up a poor first-half which suggested anything but a side challenging for the title.

Things got worse for Liverpool soon after the break when Robinho started a move which saw him find Vincent Kompany, who teed up Bellamy.

Bellamy's shot went in off an Arbeloa deflection and gave the Reds little choice but to commit more numbers forward.

We showed what we're about - Hughes

The situation was looking desperate the longer the game went on before Kuyt equalised when he pounced after Torres scuffed an effort from Benayoun's low cross.

City had seen Liverpool overturn a two-goal deficit to win in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

It was almost a case of deja vu, but Benayoun's late strike was blocked by Given and, although the Israeli's follow-up header struck Richard Dunne's arm, a penalty against the visitors would have been harsh.

And, in contrast to their defensive vulnerability so far this season, City held on to earn a point.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena (Aurelio 76), Benayoun, Mascherano (Babel 83), Lucas, Riera (El Zhar 63), Torres, Kuyt.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Ngog, Spearing.

Booked: El Zhar.

Goals: Kuyt 78.

Man City: Given, Richards, Dunne, Onuoha, Bridge, Zabaleta, De Jong, Kompany, Ireland, Bellamy, Robinho (Caicedo 88).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Garrido, Vassell, Evans, Elano, Weiss.

Booked: Dunne, Kompany.

Goals: Arbeloa 51 og.

Att: 44,259

Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Stephen Ireland on 6.85 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Benitez hangs on to title hopes
22 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
22 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
22 Feb 09 |  Football

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