English Premiership

Man City squander 2-goal lead

2014-12-28 19:13
Burnley's Ashley Barnes, centre, celebrates after scoring (AP)

Manchester - Ashley Barnes's dramatic 81st-minute equaliser earned struggling Burnley a 2-2 draw at Manchester City on Sunday, preventing the defending champions from closing on Premier League leaders Chelsea.

First-half goals from David Silva and Fernandinho had apparently put Manuel Pellegrini's side well in control as they attempted to close the gap behind Chelsea to a solitary point.

But with influential City midfielder Yaya Toure absent, presumably rested, goals from George Boyd and Barnes earned Burnley an improbable draw and denied Pellegrini's side a club-record 10th consecutive win.

The supposed gulf in class between the sides was highlighted by the manner of City's opening goal in the 23rd minute, as Silva finished clinically to register his fourth goal in the last three games.

It came from a darting run down the right by the energetic Jesus Navas, who reached the dead-ball line and pulled the ball back for Silva.

The former Valencia player switched feet neatly, swivelled and sent an unstoppable finish past Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal.

Yet the goal followed a promising flurry of attacking activity from the visitors.

Kieran Trippier's cross into the box was just missed by Danny Ings, Dean Marney shot straight at Joe Hart and Ings was guilty of a wasteful 22-yard attempt when there were better options available.

It was not difficult to see why Burnley had scored just 12 goals in their previous 18 league games and the contest looked likely to follow the form book despite City starting without an orthodox forward.

The stand-in 'false nine' James Milner shot over from six yards, Martin Demichelis had an effort blocked by Jason Shackell from similar distance and Navas's angled drive rose over the bar before the opening goal.

Once again without the predatory Sergio Aguero in their side, City turned to an unlikely source for their second goal in the 33rd minute.

The visiting defence stood off the hosts on the edge of their own area, allowing Samir Nasri to move the ball along to Fernandinho.

With time and space, the Brazil midfielder switched the ball to his right foot and deposited a magnificent shot in off the underside of the crossbar from a step outside the 18-yard box.

With leaders Chelsea having earlier drawn 1-1 at Southampton, this appeared a perfect opportunity for City to close the gap and improve their goal difference.

But City were hugely disappointing, and Burnley much improved almost immediately from kick-off in the second half.

Pablo Zabaleta failed to tackle Ings and the forward's low, driven shot was glanced into the goal by Boyd, despite replays suggesting the Scotland international did so from an offside position.

Had Ings's first touch not let him down moments later as he attempted to carry Barnes's through ball towards goal, Burnley might have claimed an equaliser even earlier.

Instead, Heaton was required to keep his team in the contest with a one-handed save at the foot of his right-hand post from Nasri.

Unmoved, Shackell headed just over and Ings shot narrowly wide for the visitors, prompting Pellegrini to bring on Stevan Jovetic and Frank Lampard.

Neither move improved matters greatly and Scott Arfield wasted a glorious chance to equalise after 78 minutes when his shot was blocked by Demichelis from only six yards.

No matter for Burnley. Within two minutes, Shackell's long free-kick into the City area was poorly defended and the ball rebounded kindly for Barnes to lash a deadly 12-yard shot into the top-left corner.


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