Manchester City travelled to Anfield on Sunday afternoon with every hope of ending a 15-year long hoodoo at Liverpool’s home ground, but they were forced to settle for a solitary point despite having a glorious opportunity to clinch a late victory from the penalty spot.
In a fixture which has widely been described as a chess match, City had a golden opportunity to put Liverpool into check mate when Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot after Virgil Van Dijk clumsily upended Leroy Sane in the penalty area.
Elation among the City supporters was rapidly replaced by bewilderment as, in the absence of designated penalty taker Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez blasted the ball over the crossbar and missed the chance to fully announce himself at the club.
Discussion over the penalty miss has naturally dominated the post-match narrative, and Gary Neville weighed in with his own personal assessment on Sky Sports.
“There’s a little bit of authority with him as he took the penalty, but there’s also a bit of selfishness – as he looked like he wanted to be the hero.”
Neville’s assessment on Mahrez’s decision to take the penalty is absolutely spot on as there was certainly a selfish aspect to his decision, but why was that the case?
Well, Mahrez has endured a rather indifferent opening to his time at City and the penalty represented a perfect opportunity for him to justify his enormous price-tag.
In fairness to Mahrez, he had the bottle to step up and take a penalty-kick of enormous importance which most players would naturally shy away from, and you cannot blame him for wanting to take responsibility.
As the club’s only summer signing, Mahrez still has plenty to prove to both Pep Guardiola and the supporters and, although he ultimately missed a golden opportunity to snatch the points, it’s difficult to criticise the Algerian for wanting to be a hero.
Mahrez (valued at £54 million by Transfermarkt) now faces a true test of character in the coming weeks following his penalty disappointment, but the fact he took responsibility in Aguero’s absence suggests that he has the mettle to bounce back and win over disgruntled supporters.
Man City fans – thoughts? Let us know below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!