This may prove the afternoon when Manchester City had a hand prised from their Premier League trophy. With 13 games remaining Manchester United's lead is nine points, though it came close to being 10 before Sergio Agüero stepped up for his side.
The champions were trailing with 12 minutes remaining when Gareth Barry floated an innocuous looking pass out to the right towards the Argentinian. Pepe Reina, for some reason, charged at the ball but Agüero took a touch with his knee, left the goalkeeper watching and then fired home a remarkable equaliser on the run from the tightest of angles.
Agüero claimed City's first title in 44 years with his winner against Queens Park Rangers here with virtually the final kick of last season. Again the striker illustrated that, cometh the hour, he is the man for City with a goal that probably mattered more for morale than the point it made.
United, though, are fast entering Foinavon territory with regard to the margin of their advantage: any more of a gap and Sir Alex Ferguson's men would need a stumble of the magnitude that allowed the unknown Irish racehorse to come through the field to win the 1967 Grand National.
Agüero's goal had cancelled out the equally superb strike from Steven Gerrard, who was named England's player of the year on Sunday night, moments earlier, which itself matched Daniel Sturridge's sublime, though controversial, first-half bullet. Gerrard's was hit from slightly further out than the former City forward's effort and came when José Enrique's cross from the left was cleared towards Liverpool's captain by Gaël Clichy. Gerrard chested the ball, let it bounce once, then unleashed a 30-yard arrow that beat Joe Hart to his right.
Before kick-off the prime demand on City had been to win. But by the close of the contest Liverpool's convincing display of pacy passing and movement suggested this draw could yet be invaluable in the final reckoning. In August these sides drew the reverse fixture 2-2 but Liverpool arrived here with the new Sturridge-Luis Suárez axis following the former's arrival from Chelsea in January.
The pair were the brightest players of a match that tingled from start to finish, with Liverpool stringing together the more fluid moves. After City took the lead through Edin Dzeko, Sturridge fired in to the home crowd's fury. They believed Anthony Taylor, the referee, should have blown for a foul by Daniel Agger on Dzeko and then that either he or Liverpool should have stopped play when the striker lay stricken.
Instead, to a cacophony of boos, Brendan Rodgers' team surged forward. As Roberto Mancini harangued Andy Halliday, the assistant referee near him and Dzeko, for not flagging for the initial incident, Sturridge struck. Javi García gave the ball away outside the City area. Stewart Downing and Gerrard each had a touch before Sturridge let fly with a left-foot rocket that defeated Joe Hart. This caused David Platt and James Milner to join in the complaints and Sturridge, who refused to celebrate at his former club, to be jeered off when replaced at the end.
Of this reception, in which some fans appeared to chant that he was "greedy" for leaving in 2009 for Chelsea, Sturridge said: "I do not think the City fans know why I left. They think I left for money. I can never disrespect this club."
City's opener had arrived five minutes beforehand. From a throw-in down their left, Agüero touched the ball to David Silva, who turned it on to Milner. The midfielder surged towards the byline, then delivered a precise cross that took out Agger – he lost a yard by appealing that Milner was offside – and allowed Dzeko to score with ease.
Liverpool emerged for the second half and immediately dominated. A Suárez free-kick was deflected for a corner that Downing hit too long. Gerrard and Downing combined before the winger swung in a deep ball that Suárez volleyed back across goal and a corner was won. This was stuck awkwardly in front of Hart by Liverpool's captain but the keeper cleared. Downing, who was proving influential, then got in down the right, though the quality of his ball into the area was not matched by a team-mate gambling on the correct run. Before Agüero's equaliser City had their moments – notably when Silva appeared to be clear in on Reina before Jamie Carragher stuck out a leg to concede the corner – but it was the visitors who continued to run the show.
Sturridge's ability to run and pirouette with the ball was bewildering City's defence and in Downing and Suárez he had the ideal partners to match his swiftness of thought. One triangle made by Sturridge and Downing on 63 minutes allowed the striker to burst into space and later there was a dazzling touch and swivel before a sweeping 35-yard pass to Jordan Henderson that launched a Liverpool counterattack.
Sturridge, who has four goals since his move from Stamford Bridge, said: "I feel like I am maturing a bit, getting a bit fitter. The first few games for Liverpool I have not shown what I can really do performance-wise, even though I have scored goals. Today, god blessed me and I could show that."
At the end there was a chance for Maicon to win it with a header for City but Liverpool would not have deserved to lose.
Man of the match Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
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