Manchester City’s top spot under threat after draw with Middlesbrough

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By Steve Tongue

LONDON (Reuters) – Premier League leaders Manchester City were left in danger of losing top spot for the first time all season after being held 1-1 at home by Middlesbrough on Saturday.

City’s unexpected lapse left Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea with an opportunity to take over at the head of the table before the weekend is over.

All seemed well for City when Sergio Aguero scored his 150th goal for the club, this one from Kevin de Bruyne’s pass, to put them ahead just before halftime.

City, who beat Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, had 19 goal attempts in a dominant first half performance but failed to make their early dominance pay and were stunned when Martin de Roon headed home powerfully in the 91st minute.

City manager Pep Guardiola reflected ruefully afterwards: “We did absolutely everything to win the game, controlled the game and in the last minute we concede a goal. It is a pity.”

He denied, though, that his side had suffered a hangover after their thrilling triumph over Barcelona. “Not really, we started amazing and played really good in the first half. We created six or seven chances and didn’t score,” he said.

Sunderland, bottom of the table and previously the only side without a win, fought back for a shock 2-1 victory at Bournemouth.

Victor Anichebe equalised Dan Gosling’s early goal for the home side and despite being under pressure with ten men after South African midfielder Steven Pienaar was sent off for a second yellow card, the Black Cats claimed a full three points at last with Jermain Defoe’s penalty.

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It was the former England striker’s sixth goal of the season.

“It’s been difficult but we showed great team spirit and character,” Defoe told Sky Sports.

“We got a bit of luck at the right time,” manager David Moyes, who had to watch the match from the stands after being dismissed from the dugout at Southampton last week, added.

Crystal Palace suffered a fourth successive defeat by losing 3-2 at Burnley in the last minute after fighting back from conceding two early goals.

The home side scored twice in the opening quarter of an hour through Welsh international Sam Vokes and Iceland’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

Substitute Connor Wickham pulled a goal back for the London side early in the second half and Christian Benteke equalised with a penalty.

Even after Ashley Barnes put Burnley back in front in added time, Palace’s Andros Townsend hit the frame of the goal in a dramatic finish.

Fourth-placed Chelsea were playing sixth-placed Everton later on Saturday. Arsenal meet Tottenham in a London derby between two of the top five on Sunday, when Liverpool host Watford and Manchester United visit Swansea City.

(Editing by Ian Chadband)


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