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Liverpool denied late penalty in thrilling 1-1 draw with Manchester City

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool was denied a last-minute penalty after fighting back to draw 1-1 with Manchester City on Sunday in the final Premier League clash between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola before the German coach steps down at the end of the season.

Alexis Mac Allister struck a 50th-minute spot kick to cancel out John Stones' first-half strike at Anfield. But Klopp thought his team should have been awarded another penalty after Jeremy Doku’s high challenge on Mac Allister in second-half stoppage time.

VAR dismissed the appeal to Klopp's dismay.

“Why would the guy in the VAR studio think that is not clear and obvious? What must you have for lunch if you think that is not clear and obvious?” Klopp said.

Doku's studs caught Mac Allister on the chest in the box as Liverpool mounted a late attack in a thrilling clash.

“He hits him on the chest. Yes he touches the ball before. Does that make any difference on any position of the pitch if your leg is that high?” Klopp said.

It meant second-place Liverpool had to settle for a draw that kept it one point ahead of defending champion City in third and behind leader Arsenal on goal difference. Arsenal moved top after a 2-1 win against Brentford on Saturday.

There has been little to separate Klopp and Guardiola in one of English soccer's most enduring rivalries and that theme continued in this latest thrilling encounter.

Klopp has announced this will be his final season with the Merseyside club and is aiming to go out in style by winning a second league title and potentially a quadruple of trophies, having already secured the League Cup.

Liverpool is still in contention for the Europa League and FA Cup and a win on Sunday would have given Klopp's team a four-point advantage over City.

But it looked like Guardiola might secure only his second win against Klopp at Anfield after Stones converted from Kevin De Bruyne's corner in the 23rd.

Mac Allister equalized five minutes into the second half after City goalkeeper Ederson brought down Darwin Nunez in the box.

Chances came and went at both ends with Luis Diaz missing a one-on-one and City's Phil Foden and Doku both hitting the woodwork before the penalty appeal.

This was another example of Guardiola’s struggles at Anfield and the potential of Klopp’s rebuilt team, which dominated for long spells in the second half.

“A lot of credit to Liverpool. They proved again what they have done is unbelievable for this rivalry,” said the City manager. “I know how difficult it is to come here and win. The players gave everything. I give credit to the opponents and take the point.”

Guardiola’s sole win at Liverpool’s stadium remains a 4-1 rout in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic when fans were locked out. Liverpool has won five of the previous eight games against City at home.

Guardiola’s team looked like addressing that record when going ahead through a corner routine that had clearly been planned on the training ground.

As Nathan Ake jostled Mac Allister out of position, De Bruyne’s low cross to the near post was met by the run of Stones. With Liverpool’s goal exposed, Stones side-footed past Caoimhin Kelleher from a narrow angle.

The home side equalized shortly after halftime when Nunez seized on an underhit pass from Ake and Ederson hacked him down in desperation.

Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot and Mac Allister fired high to the left beyond the dive of the goalkeeper.

Ederson appeared to hurt himself when bringing down Nunez and he was replaced by backup Stefan Ortega in the 56th.

City could have restored its lead when Foden was denied with only Kelleher to beat and, at the other end, Diaz fired wide when through one-on-one with Ortega.

Diaz was then denied by a last-ditch challenge from Kyle Walker, while Foden hit the bar when Kelleher’s punched clearance rebounded off the forward.

Substitute Doku hit the post in the 89th and Mohamed Salah, who had also come on as a sub, couldn’t beat Ortega when one-on-one.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer