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Man City blow golden chance to close on Chelsea

29 December 2014, 08:12

London - Manchester City squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea when they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to struggling Burnley on Sunday.

Chelsea stuttered to a 1-1 draw at Southampton and champions City looked poised to close the gap at the top to one point when they scored twice in the first half against Burnley, but Ashley Barnes lashed in a late equaliser.

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris inspired his team to a feisty 0-0 draw with third-placed Manchester United and Arsenal climbed to fifth with a 2-1 win at London rivals West Ham United.

Fourth-placed Southampton took a deserved 17th-minute lead against Chelsea, Sadio Mane running clear to slot coolly past Thibaut Courtois at St Mary's.

The visitors equalised just before halftime when Eden Hazard brilliantly controlled a fine pass from Cesc Fabregas, cut inside and stroked the ball into the net.

Chelsea poured forward but were frustrated by well-organised Southampton who had midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin sent off after receiving a second yellow card.

Jose Mourinho's team remained three points clear at the top.

"I can believe Southampton defended with everything they have -- with organisation, spirit and solidarity of players and the effort they fought to get the point," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"A point is a point against a difficult team," added the Portuguese who was fuming that his side were not awarded a penalty when Fabregas went down in the area but was booked for diving.

Manchester City, seeking a 10th successive win, eased into a 2-0 lead against Burnley thanks to goals by David Silva and Fernandinho but the visitors got a lifeline when George Boyd tapped in just after the interval.

Barnes struck with a sweet 12-metre strike to level for Burnley whose entire squad cost a fraction of City's injured 35 million-pound ($54.4 million) striker Sergio Aguero.

"It was a big opportunity to get two more points," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "Everybody would think the game was over but I always say it is never over until the last minute.

"The pitch was very heavy. Two games in 48 hours but we were winning 2-0. Once it was 2-2 we didn't have the legs to score."

Early pressure

Spurs survived early United pressure before threatening to end the visitors' eight-match unbeaten run in the closing stages at White Hart Lane.

United, who had won seven of their last eight games, stayed third in the table, 10 points behind Chelsea, and Tottenham are seventh.

"We lost two points. We had the best performance of the season in the first half and could have scored four or five goals," United manager Louis van Gaal said.

"We were fantastic. But when you don't score goals you cannot win. The second half was a struggle."

The visitors, who named an unchanged starting line-up for the first time in 85 matches, dominated the first half.

Frenchman Lloris made a fine diving save to tip over Ashley Young's fierce curling shot and Juan Mata's deflected free kick crashed against the post.

Arsenal struck twice before halftime through Santi Cazorla's penalty and a neat finish from Danny Welbeck but West Ham hit through Cheikhou Kouyate to set up a tense finale.

Newcastle United recovered from conceding an early goal to beat Everton 3-2 at St James' Park, with Papiss Cisse, Ayoze Perez and Jack Colback scoring for Alan Pardew's side.

Mame Diouf scored twice to lead Stoke City to a 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion, managerless Crystal Palace eked out a 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa overcame the sending-off of Fabian Delph to draw 0-0 with Sunderland.

Rock-bottom Leicester City won 1-0 at Hull City, their first victory since September, but they stayed at the foot of the standings, three points behind Burnley, Palace and Hull.

- Reuters


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