An error by Aké ties the final duel between Klopp and Guardiola in the Premier | Soccer | Sports

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It ended in a tie. One by one. Two unspectacular goals. But Jürgen Klopp’s last battle with Pep Guardiola in the Premier, the final edition of a duel that lasted 16 chapters since 2016, accumulated all the emotion and uncertainty that was to be expected in the plot that these two weave. reference trainers. The most influential technicians of the last decade, by number of titles accumulated but, above all, by the doses of creativity and daring with which they have permeated the game. The Anfield clash, played in the rain before a crowd of devout pilgrims, was a dizzying ferris wheel from the first play to the last. City were able to win due to their ability to calculate and control, Liverpool were able to win due to resilience and selflessness. In the balance of more or less coincidental events that make up the final result, Nathan Aké’s blunder weighed, resulting in a penalty and a tie that left the championship on the line. Now Arsenal leads the Premier with 64 points, the same as Liverpool and one more than City.

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Caoimhin Kelleher, Jarell Quansah, Virgil Van Dijk, Conor Bradley (A. Robertson, min. 61), Joe Gomez, Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai (Salah, min. 60), Wataru Endo, Luis Díaz, Harvey Elliot and Darwin Núñez (Gakpo, min. 76)

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M. City

Ederson Moraes (Stefan Ortega, min. 55), Aké, Manuel Akanji, Walker, Bernardo Silva, Rodrigo, De Bruyne (Kovacic, min. 69), John Stones, Foden, Erling Braut Haaland and Julián Álvarez (Jeremy Doku, min. 69)

Goals 0-1 min. 23: John Stones. 1-1 min. 50: Alexis MacAllister.

Referee Michael Oliver

Yellow cards Ederson Moraes (min. 47) and Bernardo Silva (min. 59)

Guardiola’s most momentous decision was to suffocate Liverpool before they made the first pass. To the man, one against one. This is how City took to the field. Without sparing efforts and without reserving one more player in the rearguard as a safety net. De Bruyne pinned Quansah, Haaland pinned Van Dijk, Silva pinned Endo, Alvarez pinned Bradley, Stones pinned Mac Allister, Rodri pinned Szoboszlai and Foden pinned Joe Gomez. The absence of Robertson on the left side of Klopp’s team deprived his teammates of one of the most discerning men in the defense. With all the usual avenues blocked, the spontaneous escape of the tight Anfield players was limited to giving the ball to their goalkeeper, Kelleher, so that he could look long for Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz. Hand in hand with the two forwards were Walker and Akanji. But Núñez’s lack of lucidity in the counterattack actions made the work easier for the markers.

City’s exhausting pressure coincided with Haaland’s best actions, becoming the apex of some of his team’s most penetrating plays, finished off unsuccessfully by De Bruyne and Álvarez. Stunned, Liverpool lost control of the game and remained far from their metamorphosis zone. It’s the nature of the red team. Vulnerable in their field, once they cross the dividing line, their footballers experience a kind of collective trance. With the opposing goal less than 50 meters away, the hesitant become bold, the threatened reckless, and those who are vague in the vicinity of their goalkeeper acquire a degree of finesse that can only be explained by the effect of the emotional wheel on the that their coach introduces them, a true manipulator of feelings, a pulse accelerator, an unparalleled contagious optimist. For half an hour, Guardiola’s strategy served to keep the dragon at bay. It was in that period of apparent calm when Stones scored 0-1.

De Bruyne took a touched corner, the perfect curve so that the ball did not go over the baseline and arrived with effect inside the six-yard box. There she was caught by Stones who, free from Núñez’s mark, put it in at the near post to the perplexity of Kelleher. The ease with which City took the lead had a paradoxical effect. Perhaps convinced that their opponent was controllable, the City players became confused because they relaxed their pressure. They freed up a few meters and thus, while Klopp did not stop encouraging the stands and his players, Mac Allister began to move the ball and his teammates crossed the border one by one. By the time the teams came out of the break the tide had turned. City had to counterpunch and defend.

Haaland was able to decide the match in a unique duel with Van Dijk. Face to face with the giants, the Dutchman prevailed with a mix of intuition, feints, and tricks to induce the Norwegian into uncertainty. The insecurity that has plagued him in recent weeks has gripped the City forward in his decision-making. The goalkeeper kept the ball and the game entered the zone of noise and transitions. Where Liverpool grows. City could only be saved by accurate exercise of their defenses. The can was opened by the point that has been threatening a hole for months: the left back Nathan Aké.

Aké, considered the number one target of rival pressures, was the victim of Bradley’s harassment. Forced to think quickly, he wanted to give it to Ederson and gave the ball to Núñez. The goalkeeper brought him down in the area and Mac Allister converted the penalty that confirmed the new reality. If City had been superior in the first half, in the second Liverpool would put them on the ropes with the help of reinforcements. Klopp introduced Salah and Robertson, who were not there for 90 minutes but are two decisive players, and City suffered continued harassment from Luis Díaz. Alone, the Colombian was enough to sow confusion in Rodri and Walker, two separate pincers and a pit with spikes as a pair. He didn’t care. Nothing seemed to stop Díaz in his advance towards the area. His attacks produced shots, assists, crosses, corners. Díaz had the goal in a one-on-one match. Núñez finished from point-blank range. Mac Allister placed the shot near the far post. In the absence of Ederson, who was injured while taking a penalty, his substitute, Stefan Ortega, stopped everything. City were so stunned that Haaland ended up serving as fourth center back with Rodri.

Anything could happen. With the players burned by exhaustion and the tactical schemes in disrepair, the final moments brought dramatic events to both areas. Doku and Foden hit two balls against the posts on one side. On the other hand, Doku was an inch away from giving Mac Allister a penalty for raising his boot to chest height in a dispute. The VAR did not see it that way and the 1-1 score went down in history along with the prolonged embrace of Klopp and Guardiola, two living myths aware that they were perpetuating a mythical gesture before the cameras.

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