Premier League: Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2
A howler from Martin Skrtel gifted Manchester City a 2-2 draw at Liverpool, denying Brendan Rodgers a win in his first home game in charge.
The defender had given his side the lead 11 minutes before half-time before Yaya Toure equalised just past the hour mark.
A superb Luis Suarez free-kick three minutes later looked to have earned the Reds three points until Skrtel's woeful backpass in the 80th minute allowed Carlos Tevez to score his 100th goal in English top-flight football.
Debutant Raheem Sterling, 17, was lively from the start and almost gave Liverpool an early lead as he crossed from the left for Fabio Borini, but the Italian could only prod his volleyed effort narrowly wide of Joe Hart’s left-hand post.
The hosts' bright start was marred as Lucas limped off with just five minutes on the clock, with an injury believed to have been sustained during the pre-match warm-up.
City came close to levelling when Tevez was played in behind Skrtel by a clever pass from Samir Nasri, and he skipped away from Pepe Reina before cutting the ball back from a tight angle only to see it bounce agonisingly across the goal line and off the far post, allowing Martin Kelly to clear.
But Liverpool were soon ahead after Steven Gerrard's fierce cross from the right was blocked just over the bar by Vincent Kompany, much to the relief of Hart.
From the ensuing corner, however, Skrtel powered a thunderous header past England's number one to send the home fans into raptures, and the score stayed at 1-0 at the break.
Rodgers' side carved out the first meaningful chance of the second half when Borini capitalised on a sloppy pass from Aleksandar Kolarov and found Suarez in the box, but the Uruguayan could only scuff his effort wide under pressure from Kompany.
Mancini moved to alter the flow of play on the hour mark as Nasri was replaced by former Evertonian Jack Rodwell.
Moments later, the disappointing Balotelli was withdrawn for Edin Dzeko, as City looked for a way past a resolute home defence – and with 63 minutes on the clock, they found it in fortuitous style.
Tevez did well to find space on the right hand side of the area. He clipped the ball towards the far post where Reina came and failed to claim it, before the ball bounced off the leg of Kelly to allow Yaya Toure a simple finish.
Liverpool would have felt hard done by to surrender their lead in such a sloppy manner, but moments later they regained their advantage in sumptuous style.
Gerrard won a free-kick 25 yards from goal, and Suarez stepped up to bend a stunning shot round the wall and into the bottom corner, beyond the despairing dive of Hart.
Mancini’s men pressed for an equaliser once more and brought David Silva on for the final fifteen minutes, but it was Liverpool who looked the more likely to score as they continued to boss possession and cause the visitors problems down the flanks.
The champions had been frustrated for long periods by a resolute Liverpool defence, but with 10 minutes to go and with his side in total control, Skrtel handed City a way back into the match.
The Slovakian played a terrible backpass without looking straight to Tevez, who rounded Reina and slotted home his 100th goal in English football to silence the home crowd.
Substitute Andy Carroll came close to giving Liverpool the lead once more after Suarez looped the ball back across goal following a corner, but Rodwell was well placed to nod the ball off the line.
The match ended in hectic style as both sides went all-out for three points, but despite late efforts from Glen Johnson and Tevez, neither team had enough to edge what was a terrific game of football.