Riyad Mahrez let Liverpool off the hook by missing a late penalty as Manchester City had to settle for a 0-0 draw in a showdown involving the Premier League's two title favourites at Anfield on Sunday.
After the game, Van Dijk accepted the referee was right to point to the spot and expressed his relief that the incident did not cost his team - as Riyad Mahrez sent the kick over the crossbar.
City had already had two shouts for penalties - one when Sergio Aguero appeared to be bundled over by Dejan Lovren and one when the Croatia caught Gabriel Jesus with a flailing arm - when Virgil van Dijk tripped Leroy Sane. "If you make mistakes, they punish you", Guardiola told his post-match news conference. We know how complicated it is playing in this stadium and how unsafe they are. "We compete really, really good". Guardiola deployed the pace and height of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte at centre-back: last season, the less mobile and imposing Nicolas Otamendi played in both away games and was swamped by Liverpool's front three. Up and down they (Liverpool) are the best team in the world in these transitions, offensive, defensive, it is built for that. It was for tactical movement, I wanted to go with Kyle Walker more attacking the right side than him.
City's tactics were so successful that Liverpool failed to register a single shot on target for the first in the first half of a Premier League game for the first time since November 2017 against Chelsea. One of them is no longer at the club and the other is out injured for the season. After their pulsating clashes in the UEFA Champions League and the 4-3 thriller in the Premier League in 2018, this affair was more pragmatic with possession nearly equal and big chances also shared evenly. The Argentine is one of the greatest goalscorers the Premier League has seen, tipped by team-mate Bernardo Silva to one day overthrow Alan Shearer as the competition's all-time top scorer.
The manager also provided an update on the fitness of James Milner, who was forced off midway through the first half with a hamstring problem.
"But a guy who has the quality to score 50 goals in a season always has that quality. It shouldn't happen, but obviously very happy we didn't concede".
"We are enjoying playing well and scoring goals", Hazard said.
"We had on Wednesday a little setback for sure".
It is perhaps understandable they would struggle to deliver the stellar figures they produced last season and there is still plenty of time for them to punish opponents again, but against City they were nowhere near their best. "He did not start in the first 11 today but when he was on he scored within a minute and that gives confidence for both him and us".
"I made the decision to shoot in the middle - the ball went up".