Manchester City salvaged a 2-2 home draw with Liverpool to leave the defending champion nine points behind Premier League soccer leader Manchester United. Tottenham won 1-0 at 10-man West Brom.
Edin Dzeko opened the scoring for City yesterday before Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard put Liverpool ahead. Sergio Aguero scored from a tight angle with 12 minutes remaining after Pepe Reina rushed out of his goal.
“We didn’t play well,” City manager Roberto Mancini said in an interview with Sky Sports. “We were so nervous, I don’t know why. But 13 games to the end is a long way. It’s not over yet. I think we can recover nine points.”
Manchester United has 62 points atop the standings with City on 53 and Chelsea 46. Fourth-place Tottenham moved to 45 points after Gareth Bale’s 67th-minute goal secured the win at West Brom, which had Goran Popov red-carded. Liverpool and West Brom are seventh and ninth, respectively.
City started strongly at Etihad Stadium and Reina had to knock the ball over from David Silva’s shot. Sturridge then had a chance at the other end but was blocked by Pablo Zabaleta.
City, which sold Mario Balotelli to AC Milan last week, took the lead through Dzeko in the 23rd minute. James Milner crossed from the left for the striker to score from close range.
Former City player Sturridge was prominent in the Reds’ attacks and he tied it six minutes later, firing past goalkeeper Joe Hart from outside the penalty area for his fourth goal in six games since joining from Chelsea. The goal was met with protests as the home team was unhappy that Liverpool had played on when Dzeko was down injured after Daniel Agger’s tackle.
Just before halftime, Zabaleta was involved in a mix-up with Hart and narrowly avoided scoring an own goal as the Reds’ approach work stretched the home team.
Visiting captain Gerrard put Liverpool ahead in the 73rd minute, chesting the ball down before slamming a long-range shot across Hart and into the net.
Aguero made it 2-2 five minutes later, scoring from an acute angle after Reina rushed far out to the side of his goal, leaving the net unguarded.
Sturridge almost scored in the closing seconds, forcing Hart into a save as City held on for a point.
At the Hawthorns, Bale came closest to breaking the first-half deadlock when West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster tipped his shot over. Spurs lost Jermain Defoe because of an ankle injury before the interval and the striker will miss England’s exhibition match against Brazil in two days.
Just after halftime, Popov was red-carded when he spat in the direction of Tottenham’s Kyle Walker after the pair confronted each other. The visiting team then began to dominate possession and Bale scored with 23 minutes left, slamming a left-foot shot into the net from just outside the penalty area.
“Other results went our way yesterday and that gave us a big chance to capitalize,” Bale told Sky Sports after scoring his 11th league goal this season. “Thankfully we did.”
West Brom manager Steve Clarke said the sending off was the turning point of the match.
“I’m absolutely disgusted with Goran’s behavior,” Clarke told reporters. “One of the group has let the players down. It changed the whole complexion of the game.”
Two days ago, Manchester United won 1-0 at Fulham, Arsenal beat Stoke 1-0 and Chelsea lost 3-2 at Newcastle. Everton and Aston Villa drew 3-3, while Wigan and Southampton tied 2-2. Reading beat Sunderland 2-1, West Ham had a 1-0 victory against Swansea and last-place Queens Park Rangers drew 0-0 with Norwich.
QPR has 17 points, four behind Aston Villa and Wigan in the other relegation positions.