By the end, it was difficult to recall the last time a 1-1 draw had provided so much incident and drama. Between them, Manchester City and Liverpool kept up a long narrative of breathless, energetic football. A two-goal thriller that had just about everything: controversy, penalties, non‑penalties, near-unremitting attacking and, from Adam Lallana, a miss that might wake him in a cold sweat. Everything, in fact, apart from a winner.

Lallana will certainly not wish to see the replay of the moment late on when Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino combined to leave him with a golden chance, six yards out, only for the England international to take his eye off the ball. A second Liverpool goal seemed a near certainty and it was the first incident Jürgen Klopp mentioned in his post‑match interviews.

The only consolation for Lallana is that Sergio Agüero, scorer of City’s equaliser, missed another opportunity a few minutes later that a striker with his goals record would normally be expected to convert as a matter of routine. The chance went high into the crowd and, without wishing to sound too corny, perhaps it was fair that the game finished as a draw. Both sides had given everything. They could both reflect on chances to win, and they could both have lost. It was a tremendous battle, full of everything that is good about the Premier League, featuring two sides playing with a shared sense of adventure.

Not that City will see it that way, perhaps, given that James Milner should really have been sent off for depriving Raheem Sterling a near-certain goal in the first half. Milner’s foul on Sterling was missed by the referee, Michael Oliver, and that had considerable ramifications bearing in mind it was the former City player who opened the scoring with a penalty of his own five minutes into the second half.

To dwell too much on the various penalty appeals would perhaps be unfair when the game was such a rich spectacle, not only because of the speed and skill of the players but also the spirit in which both teams faced one another down. Exhibit A: the mistimed tackle from Yaya Touré that connected painfully, studs-up, with Emre Can’s shoulder as he lay on the floor. Touré might have been in trouble if Can had indulged in some pretend agony. The Liverpool player was straight back on his feet, earning a round of applause from the home crowd.

Equally, there is no doubt the game’s controversies formed a considerable part of the narrative and it was a difficult occasion for the match officials. By half-time, there were already four penalty appeals to sift through and, uppermost among them, it was an almighty let-off for Liverpool when David Silva, such a gem of a player, sent a low cross into the six-yard area and Milner’s sliding challenge connected with Sterling’s right foot as he was waiting to turn the ball into an unguarded net.

The mitigation for Oliver is that everything happened so quickly it was difficult at first to be clear whether Sterling had taken his eye off the ball or if Milner had caused the miss. Fernandinho might have made the argument irrelevant if he had been able to turn in the ball at the far post but the Brazilian was caught by surprise, turning his shot into the side-netting, and the replays confirmed that Sterling had been clipped. It was a subtle, yet decisive, intervention from Milner and would have been his last involvement if Oliver had not missed it.

In response, Liverpool might point out there was a reasonable argument that Touré had manhandled Wijnaldum for a possible penalty earlier in the first half. Yet City had a separate case that Agüero was impeded by Ragnar Klavan from another early chance. Klopp, meanwhile, felt the opening 45 minutes had another potential red-card incident – stretching it, this one – when Sadio Mané outran the accident‑prone Nicolás Otamendi and went down in the penalty area.

A more realistic view is that Mane’s foot had connected with Otamendi, rather than the other way around, and Guardiola had the more legitimate grievances. Liverpool certainly rode their luck at times but there were also periods when they looked the more rounded side in terms of getting the balance right between defence and attack. Milner’s penalty came from Gaël Clichy slipping at a key moment, then flattening Firmino in his desperation to make amends, and they will be disappointed they could not add a second goal to recognise how often they threatened the home side from that point onwards. Aside from Lallana, Firmino had an outstanding chance, running on to Philippe Coutinho’s pass, and Willy Caballero’s save was vital for the home side salvaging a draw.

The equaliser came after 69 minutes. Fernandinho sprayed a pass out to De Bruyne on the right wing and the Belgian’s delivery into the six-yard box was measured beautifully. Agüero had been anticipating the cross and stroked a first-time shot past Simon Mignolet from eight yards.

The rest of the match, like much of what had gone before, was played at a rare speed and maybe, to be generous, it was a touch of fatigue that denied Liverpool their best chance. Lallana, Klopp reported, had apologised for his wastefulness. Agüero’s miss spared him any more misery and Chelsea remain a speck in the distance.