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Micah battles with Ryan Babel

Micah battles with Liverpool's Ryan Babel, for the ball

Sunday February 22, 2009Liverpool 1 - 1 Manchester City

By Rhonda Richards | In Match Reports - Away Games

Manchester City secured a point against Liverpool at Anfield courtesy of a 1-1 score-line, with Mark Hughes’ men much improved following an indifferent away from home this season.

Liverpool had been beset by speculation suggesting that manager Rafa Benitez is preparing to leave the club due to further breakdowns in contract negotiations, while on the field they were without inspirational captain Steven Gerrard due to injury.

They did, though, re-call Fernando Torres, Albert Riera, Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt to the starting-eleven, while the only change for City following the 2-2 midweek draw away at FC Copenhagen saw Nigel de Jong replace the suspended Shaun Wright-Phillips.

The Reds, occupying second spot in the Premier League and going in search of three valuable points in order to close the gap on leaders Manchester United, began brightly, though the City defence was marshalling their opponents well to prevent Shay Given from having to make a save.

Micah did well to pressure Riera into heading over, and Torres fired a shot wide of the post after Youssi Benayoun’s flick on as City contained any serious threat from their opponents.

Kuyt was next up to miss the target before Riera’s hooked effort was chested clear by Micah once again, though moments later a strong challenge from Andrea Dossena saw the 20-year old land on his head.

He shook off the effects of the tumble, however, and as the visitors weathered Liverpool’s storm, Robinho created the first opening for the Eastlanders.

The forward, quiet up until midway through the first half, jinked beyond the Liverpool defence and slipped a ball through to Stephen Ireland, but the latter saw his first effort blocked by Pepe Reina before his subsequent snap-shot hit the side-netting.

The Merseysiders continued to venture forward in search of an opener but City stood strong, marshalled by their captain Richard Dunne, and the sides went into half time on level terms.

With the home faithful perhaps expecting more pressure from their side, City took the lead six minutes after the interval, Robinho and Vincent Kompany combining well 15 yards from Liverpool’s goal.

Kompany held off challenges from The Reds’ defence and laid the ball off to Craig Bellamy, with the former-Liverpool man slotting the ball home with the aid of a deflection from Alvaro Arbeloa.

Benitez’s team were rocked by the goal and City could have been two up soon after as Micah burst beyond Liverpool’s defence and fired across a ball that was directed home by Ireland, but the midfielder had strayed offside.

As the visitors gained momentum, however, it was their turn to suffer the blow of conceding after fine work by Benayoun, the Israeli directing a cross towards Torres which was missed by the Spain international, allowing Kuyt to find the back of the net as The Reds once again fought back.

The hosts immediately seized the initiative as they went in search of a winner, Kuyt blasting in an effort from 25-yards which was pushed away by Given before an even better save denied Benayoun from close-range.

Benitez continued to bark instructions to his team to no avail as the match finished 1-1, and while City’s winless run on the road continues, Hughes will be delighted with the efforts of his players after what was a solid, passion-filled performance.