Wednesday 21 February 2018

Manchester City lose ground in title race after being held at Norwich

Relegation-battlers Norwich dented Manchester City's Barclays Premier League title hopes as they fought out a goalless draw at Carrow Road
Relegation-battlers Norwich dented Manchester City's Barclays Premier League title hopes as they fought out a goalless draw at Carrow Road

Manchester City missed the chance to eat into the deficit to Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester as they were held to a goalless draw by relegation-battlers Norwich at Carrow Road.

City boss M anuel Pellegrini had resisted the temptation to make sweeping changes for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, with the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie coming up against Dynamo Kiev next week.

However, despite dominating possession , the visitors lacked a cutting edge in a match devoid of clear cut chances at either end as Norwich's defence finally managed to keep Sergio Aguero at bay.

Norwich, who had lost eight of their last nine league matches to slump into the relegation zone, came close to snatching the lead in the first half when a 25-yard effort from on-loan Chelsea forward Patrick Bamford hit the top of the crossbar, while midfielder Graham Dorrans sliced a decent late chance wide.

The point moves Norwich level with 17th-placed Sunderland, while City are now nine behind Leicester , who play Newcastle on Monday night.

Bournemouth took a significant step to securing their top-flight survival with a thrilling 3-2 win over Swansea at the Vitality Stadium, which leaves them on 38 points and 13 clear of the drop zone following a third straight victory.

Ivory Coast midfielder Max Gradel, just back from six months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury, gave the Cherries the lead on 36 minutes, knocking in a loose ball after Swans keeper Lukasz Fabianski had palmed out Adam Smith's right-wing cross.

The visitors, though, were level just two minutes later when Gambian frontman Modou Barrow scored his first Swansea goal with a curling effort into the far corner after cutting in from the right.

Bournemouth regained the advantage on 50 minutes when Joshua King netted his second goal in as many games.

Swansea, who themselves are fighting to pull clear of the survival battle, equalised again on 62 minutes through Gylfi Sigurdsson.

However, Eddie Howe's side were not to be denied as with 13 minutes left Steve Cook headed in following a corner to secure what could well be a season-defining victory for the south-coast club, who were in League One just three seasons ago.

Graziano Pelle broke his goal drought with a first-half brace as Southampton won 2-1 at Stoke, where the visitors finished the match with 10 men.

After a positive opening from the hosts, Pelle headed Southampton in front on 11 minutes following a corner for a first goal since November 1.

The Italian forward then doubled the Saints lead on 29 minutes when he rolled the ball past Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland after being played into the right side of the penalty area by a neat exchange with Dusan Tadic.

Stoke got themselves back into the game on 51 minutes when Marko Arnautovic converted Ibrahim Afellay's cross at the near post.

Southampton had what looked a strong penalty claim turned down by referee Lee Mason when Tadic appeared to have been felled by Butland, and saw a late free-kick from James Ward-Prowse hit the crossbar.

In stoppage time, Saints forward Sadio Mane was sent off for an apparent elbow on Erik Pieters as they jumped for the ball, but the visitors closed out victory.

Press Association

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