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City claim vital point in thriller

Saturday's Premier League round-up

By | 31st March 2012

Manchester City came from 3-1 down to draw level with Sunderland and move within two points of leaders Manchester United at the Premier League summit.

Earlier in the match, Sebastian Larsson had scored either side of a Nicklas Bendtner header, leaving Mario Balotelli’s first-half penalty to look like merely a consolation goal.

However, it was Balotelli who inspired a terrific comeback, smashing in a thunderous strike in the 85th minute to bring the Citizens within striking distance at Etihad Stadium.

A minute later, Aleksandar Kolarov made it 3-3 with a smashing long-range effort of his own, bringing the home supporters to their feet.

While manager Roberto Mancini’s frustrated look at the full-time whistle clearly reflected that two crucial points had been dropped at the Eastlands, the riveting turn-around from nothing would certainly make many feel that this was a point gained by City.

With superstars like David Silva and Yaya Toure struggling to be at their best, and leading striker Sergio Aguero out injured, Balotelli, Kolarov, and Edin Dzeko (the winner of City’s penalty) all showed their fighting spirit in difficult times when many supporters even chose to exit the stadium early.

Furthermore, just as Sunderland benefited tremendously from the creativity of Stephane Sessegnon, the Citizens enjoyed the invaluable contribution of substitute David Pizarro.

On-loan Chilean midfielder Pizarro came off the bench with less than 10 minutes left in regulation and immediately made his impact with the kind of pin-point passing that had been missing from City’s game throughout the match.

In many ways, Pizarro’s passes restored his teammates’ belief in storming back into this fixture and avoiding a confidence-shattering defeat.

Barring a United win at Blackburn on Monday, City will remain no more than three points adrift of their cross-town rivals, with the Red Devils yet to visit the blue half of Manchester a few weeks from now.

In today’s other results, Queens Park Rangers ended Arsenal’s seven-match winning streak with a stunning 2-1 win at Loftus Road.

Adel Taarabt and Samba Diakite scored either side of a Theo Walcott equalizer to give the Rangers a much needed boost in their fight against relegation.

Speaking of the relegation battle, Wigan and Stoke did their chances of survival no harm with 2-0 and 3-2 wins over Stoke City and the Wolves, respectively.

Back in the capital, Fulham enjoyed a 2-1 win over Norwich as Clint Dempsey and Damien Duff scored in the opening 13 minutes to lead the charge for the Cottagers.

In the midlands, Fulham’s West London rivals Chelsea claimed a thrilling 4-2 win over Aston Villa. Daniel Sturridge scored the opener and Fernando Torres scored the game’s last goal for his maiden Premier League strike in 2012.

It was in between those goals, however, where the thrills came. James Collins and American Eric Lichaj scored within a three minute spell to bring the hosts level but Branislav Ivanovic also appeared twice on the spreadsheet, tipping the scale in the Blues’ favor.

At Goodison Park, Everton defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-0 to finally leapfrog Liverpool for the seventh place in the league standings.

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