City snatch equaliser to stay in title contention
Liverpool's veteran defender Jamie Carragher challenges Manchester City's Sergio Aguero during yesterday'sgame at the Etihad Stadium. photograph: nigel roddis/reuters
Manchester City 2 Liverpool 2:This may prove the afternoon when Manchester City had a hand prised from their Premier League trophy. With 13 games remaining Manchester United’s lead is nine points, though it came close to being a potentially terminal 10 before Sergio Aguero stepped up for his side.
The champions were trailing with 12 minutes remaining when Gareth Barry floated an innocuous looking pass out to the right towards the Argentinian. Pepe Reina, for some reason, decided to charge at the ball but Aguero took a touch with his knee, left the goalkeeper watching and then turned and fired home a sublime equaliser from the tightest of angles.
Aguero claimed City’s first title in 44 years with his winner against Queens Park Rangers here with virtually the final kick of last season. Again the striker illustrated that, cometh the hour, he is the man for City with a goal that handed his club a championship lifeline.
United, though, are fast entering Foinavon territory with regard to the margin of their advantage: any more of a gap and Alex Ferguson’s men would need a stumble of the magnitude that allowed the unknown Irish racehorse to come through the field to win the 1967 Grand National.
Aguero’s goal had cancelled out the equally superb strike from Steven Gerrard moments earlier, which itself matched Daniel Sturridge’s sublime, though controversial, first-half barnburner.
Gerrard’s was hit from slightly further out than the former City forward’s effort and came when José Enrique’s cross from the left was cleared towards Liverpool’s captain by Gael Clichy. Gerrard chested the ball, let it bounce once, then unleashed a 30-yard arrow that beat Joe Hart to his right.
Before kick-off the prime demand on City had been to win. But by the close of the contest, Liverpool’s convincing display of pacy passing and movement suggested this draw could yet be invaluable when May arrives and the title is handed out. In August these sides drew the reverse fixture 2-2 but Liverpool arrived here with the new Sturridge-Luis Suarez axis, following the former’s arrival from Chelsea in January.
The pair were the brightest players of a match that tingled from start to finish, with Liverpool stringing together the more fluid moves.
After City took the lead through Edin Dzeko, Sturridge fired home to the home crowd’s fury. They believed Anthony Taylor, the referee, should have whistled for a foul by Daniel Agger on Dzeko and then that either he or Liverpool should have stopped play when the striker lay stricken.
Instead, to a cacophony of boos, Brendan Rodgers’ team surged forward. As Roberto Mancini harangued Andy Halliday, the assistant referee near him, for not flagging for the initial incident, Sturridge struck.