After a cautious start by both sides Liverpool started to push forward and created a couple of half-chances. Joleon Lescott was forced to head clear a Steven Gerrard free-kick into the box as Martin Skrtel was lurking, before Lucas Leiva was caught marginally offside after a pass from midfield. The Argentinian had a one-on-one with Shay Given but was stopped in his tracks by the assistant's flag.
Manchester City pounced on the counter-attack in the 11th minute. Attacking down the right, Pablo Zabaleta looked to play in Shaun Wright-Phillips but the Englishman went too early and was flagged offside.
Liverpool continued their drive forward and Maxi Rodriguez had a shot on goal after a flick on by Gerrard on the left. The Argentinian fired wide of the left-hand post with a snapshot, he was under pressure and won Liverpool a corner that the Citizens cleared.
City began to venture forward, attacking down the flanks with Wright-Phillips and Adam Johnson. The former Middlesbrough winger looked especially lively, interlinking with Stephen Ireland to find space on the left. His crossing was wayward at times, and he wasted a decent opportunity to get the ball into the box in the 22nd minute, launching well over the crossbar.
The game opened up with attacks at either end of the field, both sides engineered good passing movements but they resulted in very little in the way of scoring opportunities. Zabaleta had a optimistic strike on goal from the edge of the Liverpool penalty area but it deflected wide of the right-hand post off Adebayor.
Johnson switched flanks with Wright-Phillips and continued to enjoy good possession. Adebayor fed the ball to the 22-year-old on the right and Johnson did well to create space, cutting back towards his own goal before swinging a cross towards the back post. It was over hit and went out for a goal kick.
The atmosphere became increasingly rambunctious as half-time approached, with Gerrard being yellow carded for a crude challenge on Lescott in the right-hand side of the City penalty box. The crowd seemed to be becoming frustrated with the lack of incision from the home side.
The second half started with City putting Pepe Reina under pressure from a couple of corners. The Spaniard punched away nervously from the first but collected well from the second with Adebayor in the near vicinity.
City had the ball in the back of the net in the 50th minute, Ireland drove down the right flank and played the ball inside to Adebayor. Liverpool closed on the Togolese forward as he tried to spread the ball outside to the left, it was blocked by a Liverpool foot and spilled to Ireland, who had ghosted into the right-hand side of the box. Ireland made no mistake and slotted past Reina at the near post, but was greeted by the assistant's raised flag as he peeled away to celebrate. He was adjudged to be offside: 0-0.
The home side's momentum was interrupted after an odd injury to Ryan Babel. The Dutchman went to close down a cross on the right and was caught full in the face by the attempted ball in. He was down for several minutes as physios assessed a potential neck injury but was fine to continue.
City had a good chance on the hour mark, they attacked down the left and crossed into the middle where Ireland knocked the ball back to Adebayor on the edge of the area. The Togolese forward controlled and then rifled towards the bottom left-hand corner of the goal, Reina dived at full stretch and managed to divert the ball wide. He was furious Adebayor was allowed to get the strike on goal and admonished his defenders.
Both managers made attacking substitutions, Rafael Benitez replaced Maxi with Yossi Benayoun before Roberto Mancini brought on Craig Bellamy in favour of Wright-Phillips.
Liverpool worked a decent opening for Gerrard in the 74th minute, Babel drove inside from the left and played the ball inside to Dirk Kuyt who quickly shifted the ball to Gerrard on his left. The Liverpool skipper sold his marker a dummy to work the ball onto his left foot before firing towards the City goal. The shot was powerful but straight at Given, who made a comfortable save.
This was Babel's last involvement, as the Dutchman was taken off to allow Fernando Torres to come off the bench.
Adebayor had two chances to put City in the lead as the last ten minutes approached. He broke free of the Liverpool defence and drove towards the penalty area, just as he was about to shoot Skrtel recovered and made a last ditch tackle on the Togolese forward to concede a corner. From the set piece the ball came to Adebayor, who headed over the bar from close range.
The Citizens had a late shout for a penalty turned down by referee Peter Walton as Daniel Agger nudged Adebayor as a diagnol ball was thrown towards the right-hand side of the penalty area. Adebayor went down more in hope than expectation, despite the roar from the crowd.
There were five minutes of stoppage time but neither side could capitalise, with substitute Abdisalam Ibrahim firing wide of the left-hand post for City in the final minutes.