London: Liverpool’s position atop the Premier League table was strengthened on Wednesday when title rivals Manchester City were held to a 2-2 draw at home to bottom club Sunderland.Beaten 3-2 at Liverpool on Sunday, City were bidding to close to within four points of Brendan Rodgers’s side in the first of their two games in hand.

Fernandinho’s second-minute goal at the Etihad Stadium put City on track.But after Connor Wickham scored twice in the last 17 minutes, the hosts needed a fortuitous 88th-minute equaliser from Samir Nasri just to rescue a point.

The result left City six points below Liverpool in third place and although Manuel Pellegrini’s side still have a game in hand, the title is inching ever closer to Anfield. “It is not enough, because we have Liverpool and Chelsea on top of the table and we needed to add three points,” said City coach Pellegrini. “We will see in the future what will happen, but our chances are less.

“When it no longer depends on what you can do it is very frustrating, but we must finish the season the way we have done practically the whole season.”City were without injured midfielders Yaya Toure and David Silva, but top scorer Sergio Aguero returned to their starting line-up alongside Alvaro Negredo as Pellegrini made five changes to the team that lost at Liverpool.

The hosts made an ideal start, with Negredo winning the ball back and finding Aguero, whose pass enabled Fernandinho to open the scoring from eight yards. AFP

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