Daniel Agger and Ryan Babel added to Liverpool’s injury woes on Saturday in a lively 2-2 English Premier League draw with big-spending Manchester City at Anfield.
A win, in what under-pressure Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez had described as a potentially make-or-break match for his side’s domestic ambitions, would have sent either club temporarily fourth in the standings.
Instead, City chalked up a sixth consecutive draw, one short of the Premier League record. Liverpool, however, had to come from behind to salvage a point and stay seventh.
Benitez was forced into making two unscripted substitutions within the first 18 minutes of a scrappy first half.
Agger collapsed with a gashed forehead in the fifth minute after clashing with Kolo Toure in the goalmouth as City keeper Shay Given made the save of the match to prevent Liverpool taking the early lead.
Sky Sports News reported that the Danish defender, who was carried off on a stretcher, had concussion and needed stitches to the wound.
Babel followed him off with an apparent ankle injury and was replaced by Yossi Benayoun, making an early return from a hamstring injury after travelling to Serbia for treatment involving the use of horse placenta.
Defender Martin Skrtel brought the match to life in the 50th minute with his first goal for Liverpool, the Slovakian defender escaping Emmanuel Adebayor to get the final touch to a free kick whipped in by Steven Gerrard.
Adebayor made up for it by heading in the equaliser from a corner kick 18 minutes later.
Two goals in the space of 74 seconds then rounded off the afternoon’s entertainment, with Stephen Ireland slotting home to put City ahead in the 76th before Benayoun stabbed in a 77th-minute equaliser.
“You cannot be happy when you draw at home," said Rafa Benitez. “You have a game plan but then you lose (Glen) Johnson on the morning of the game and then (Daniel) Agger is stretchered off and (Ryan) Babel has to go off as well.”
“The positive thing is we showed great character when we went behind.” In other weekend fixtures , Arsenal lost to Sunderland 0-1, while drubbed Wolverhampton 4-0.