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Liverpool, City frustrated by draw in title clash, Spurs rout Villa

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LONDON: Liverpool and Manchester City shared a pulsating 1-1 draw in their title showdown to leave Arsenal on top of the Premier League, while Tottenham Hotspur routed Aston Villa 4-0 to reignite their bid for a top four finish on Sunday.

City took the lead through John Stones’ first-half strike, but Alexis Mac Allister equalised with a penalty soon after the interval at Anfield.

The result was exactly what Arsenal wanted as the Gunners retained first place, a position they earned when Kai Havertz’s late header clinched a dramatic 2-1 win against Brentford on Saturday.

Arsenal are above second-placed Liverpool on goal difference, with a +7 advantage, while champions City are one point adrift of the top two, with all three teams having 10 games left.

In a title race for the ages, Arse­nal will travel to City for a potentially decisive clash in both sides’ next league game on March 31.

City had drawn first blood at Anfield with a clever set-piece routine in the 23rd minute.

Kevin De Bruyne hit a low corner that Stones met at the near post with a close-range finish.

Liverpool levelled in the 50th minute when City defender Nathan Ake played a suicidal back-pass that was intercepted by Darwin Nunez.

City keeper Ederson rushed off his line in a desperate bid to avert the danger, but only succeeded in catching Nunez with a reckless lunge.

Mac Allister calmly stroked the spot-kick past Ederson and in a frantic finale, City’s Jeremy Doku hit the post and then escaped another penalty appeal for his high challenge on Liverpool’s goalscorer.

An already seismic showdown was given extra significance by Jurgen Klopp’s last top-flight meeting with City boss Pep Guardiola after his bombshell announcement that he will quit Liverpool at the end of this season.

After jousting for supremacy throughout their reigns, it was fitting that Klopp held Guardiola in a warm embrace at the final whistle of a clash that leaves the destiny of the title still in the balance.

Earlier, Ange Postecoglou’s side arrived at Villa Park knowing defeat to their fourth-placed rivals would have been potentially fatal to their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

But the north Londoners rose to the challenge with a second-half goal spree in the rain-soaked West Midlands.

James Maddison put Totte­nham ahead and Brennan John­son doubled their lead before Villa captain John McGinn was sent off for chopping down Destiny Udogie.

Son Heung-min and Timo Werner struck in stoppage time to leave fifth-placed Tottenham just two points behind Villa with a game in hand.Meanwhile, Burnley blew a two-goal lead as Danny Ings’ last-gasp equaliser rescued a 2-2 draw for West Ham United. Burnley are 10 points from safety with 10 games left.

Elsewhere, fourth bottom Nottingham Forest failed to pull away from relegation danger as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Andrew Omobamidele’s first-half own goal ended Brighton’s three-match winless league run to lift them to eighth place.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2024

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