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Reds slip in title race as Foxes nab big point

Liverpool 1 Leicester City 1

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All action: Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri challenges Ricardo Pereira

All action: Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri challenges Ricardo Pereira

Getty Images

Sadio Mane celebrates his opener

Sadio Mane celebrates his opener

AFP/Getty Images

Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel

PA

All action: Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri challenges Ricardo Pereira

Liverpool failed to take full advantage of Manchester City's slip-up in the title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester.

It extended their advantage at the top of the Premier League to five points but manager Jurgen Klopp would have expected more after taking a lead inside three minutes through Sadio Mane.

He would have been even less impressed with a number of penalty claims which referee Martin Atkinson waved away and positively apoplectic about the marking which allowed Harry Maguire to equalise for the Foxes in first-half added time.

Leicester, who weathered the early storm and came on strong in the second half, ended a three-match losing streak with a determined performance.

Klopp said: "The opponent was well organised, very deep defending. The pitch was difficult and we needed to speed it up in the final third. Our counter-attacks in the opening moments were defended more by the pitch than our opponents!

"We put them under pressure but they did really well. We were unlucky with the goal in the last second before half-time. You have to take it how it is."

On Maguire being free to score the equaliser, he added: "We had to change it. The situation with the goal was difficult. I don't know why we tried to play him onside. It did not make sense. That was not cool."

Maguire had earlier escaped a red card after deliberately fouling Mane 40 yards from goal when the winger looked to sprint clear, while Liverpool were denied a second-half penalty when Naby Keita was fouled by Ricardo Pereira.

"It was probably the clearest penalty situation we have had," added Klopp.

"The ref was in the best position on the pitch. You will have to ask him why he didn't give a penalty. You cannot change it."

Leicester City boss Claude Puel said: "Of course I am proud of my players. It was another difficult start to the game. We conceded after two minutes but we didn't lose our structure.

"At the end we had more chances and it could have been better at the end. We deserved the win with the chances we had."

On Maguire's clash with Mane, he said: "I didn't see the replay but I think it was a circumstance. It was not a red card."

And on the penalty shout he added: "Penalty? Are you a Liverpool fan? It is the same question!

"I think we had the right decision from the referee. There is no excuse for Liverpool."

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson said: "We are disappointed with the result because we wanted the win but Leicester are a good side. It wasn't our best performance but we kept going and just couldn't find the winner. We'll take the point and move on to the next game.

"They defended well. We didn't really do enough. There's things we can improve on. The conditions were difficult too but that's the same for both teams.

On the goal Pool conceded, he said: "We could have cleared it and didn't defend it so we are disappointed with that."

On Liverpool's spot kick claim, he added: "It looked like a penalty from where I was. The ref was closer than me so he had a better view. You'll probably know better than me!

"All we can do is concentrate on ourselves. We can play much better and do more so we just need to keep working."

City's recovery will give under-pressure manager Puel encouragement after going behind to Liverpool's quickest league goal - 121 seconds - for almost three years.

A 30-pass move culminated in Andrew Robertson and Roberto Firmino combining to tee up Mane for a low shot around Maguire's legs and inside the far post.

Firmino then flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot before firing in a low shot which Kasper Schmeichel tipped around the post.

Maguire was booked for tripping Mane as he tried to run clean through onto Robertson's pass.

By far his biggest contribution, however, was the added-time volley when Liverpool failed to clear a free-kick and the defender broke the offside line to sneak in at the far post.

The big centre-back almost repeated the feat early in the second half and it required Alisson to get Firmino out of jail when his Brazil team-mate diverted Maguire's header goalwards.

Naby Keita felt he should have had a penalty when, after exchanging passes with Firmino to get through on goal, Ricardo Pereira laid two hands on his back causing him to fall but the referee awarded a goal-kick.

Liverpool's first dropped points at Anfield since October meant the sense of a missed opportunity was palpable at the final whistle.

Liverpool: Alisson, Henderson, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Keita (Lallana 67), Shaqiri (Fabinho 67), Firmino (Sturridge 82), Mane, Salah.

Subs Not Used: Lovren, Mignolet, Origi,Camacho.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Gray (Okazaki 84), Mendy, Ndidi, Maddison (Choudhury 75), Albrighton, Vardy (Iheanacho 90).

Subs not used: Simpson, Morgan, Ward, Barnes.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

Belfast Telegraph