English Premiership

Milner rescues point against Hull

2015-02-07 20:02
James Milner (Supplied)

Cape Town -Manchester City's hold on the Premier League title weakened further as James Milner's injury-time free-kick earned his side a 1-1 draw at home to Hull City on Saturday.

Substitute Milner struck with a magnificent direct shot from the edge of the penalty area after Tom Huddlestone had brought down Sergio Aguero.

The result not only saw City fall seven points below leaders Chelsea, but also represented their fourth consecutive league game without victory -- the club's worst such sequence for over five years.

The loss of two points also underlined just how much they have missed midfielder Yaya Toure, currently on Africa Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast, who face Ghana in Sunday's final.

In six league games without Toure, City have drawn five and lost one, and the club have already declared that they do not expect him to return to England in time for their visit to Stoke City on Wednesday.

Hull shocked the hosts with their 35th-minute opening goal, but in terms of chances if not possession, they had enjoyed by far the more productive first half even before David Meyler struck.

While City had enjoyed a glut of possession, Steve Bruce's side had defended soundly and looked threatening on the counter-attack.

Ahmed Elmohamady sounded a warning after just a quarter of an hour when he rose to meet Robbie Brady's hanging cross and thundered a header against the crossbar with Joe Hart beaten.

The woodwork also played a part when Hull eventually did take the lead following a catalogue of City errors.

Hart and Vincent Kompany dithered in defence and Martin Demichelis made a poor clearance straight to Jake Livermore, whose 20-yard shot was well saved by Hart.

The ball fell to Gaston Ramirez, whose follow-up shot struck the City post, and Meyler slammed the rebound past the stranded Hart.

It was a dismal start to proceedings for a City side who had impressed in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea last weekend.

- Silva penalty shout -

City striker Edin Dzeko, starting for the first time since October, had a couple of half-chances; notably an early header that Allan McGregor held comfortably.

Later in the first half, Samir Nasri drew frustrated groans from City's supporters as he waited too long and allowed Alex Bruce to charge down his shot from a promising spot.

But the visitors looked just as likely to score, making a mockery of a run that had seen them fail to score in 11 of their previous 15 league outings.

Sone Aluko was just beaten to an Elmohamady through-ball by Hart before the Hull opener and, after it, the same striker hurriedly shot high and wide from Huddlestone's free-kick.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini replaced the ineffective Fernando with Jesus Navas at the interval in an attempt to breathe more attacking life into his team.

With Silva looking more purposeful than in the first half, McGregor was forced into his first meaningful save in the 54th minute, diving smartly to keep out Dzeko's bouncing shot from a Pablo Zabaleta cross.

There was also a strong penalty appeal from the home crowd after Silva went down under contact from behind by Bruce.

City were even more dominant in possession than they had been in the first half and McGregor was again forced to show his abilities after 67 minutes when he smothered an awkward Nasri free-kick.

McGregor also had to contend with a snapshot from Aguero, who had been granted a rare glimpse of goal from Gael Clichy's cross.

City's hopes of salvaging a point appeared to have disappeared in the last minute when Aguero showed superb control to bring down the ball at the far post, only to shoot against the bar.

Milner's late intervention spared City the ignominy of a third straight home defeat, after 2-0 losses to Arsenal and Middlesbrough, but it was not the result the home team needed.


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