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Feb 3, 2013

Sergio Aguero snatches draw for City

Champion Manchester City lost more ground in the title race as it was held to a 2-2 draw in a thrilling encounter at home to Liverpool.

Edin Dzeko's 12th goal of the season put the hosts ahead from close range midway through the first half only for Daniel Sturridge to smash home his fourth in six matches since his move from Chelsea.

An even better trademark Steven Gerrard strike put Liverpool ahead with 17 minutes to go only but Sergio Aguero salvaged a point with an exquisite shot from the narrowest of angles.

Aguero's 79th-minute goal gave City one point that will be of little comfort to manager Roberto Mancini, whose team has dropped four points in six days and is struggling to keep pace with United.

"Seven or nine points doesn't change (anything)," Mancini said. "I think we can recover it."

All the early pressure was with City but once Liverpool had weathered that initial storm, it started to come into its own. Luis Suarez, busy without being particularly threatening, flashed a shot across Joe Hart and wide of the far post as it seemed the visitors were about to take control.

That notion was dispelled in the 24th minute as some neat interplay from Silva and James Milner from a throw-in on the left saw the latter cross low for Dzeko to sneak behind Daniel Agger and tap home from close range.

If that goal was founded in simplicity, Liverpool's equalizer was made of pure brilliance, although it was viewed as controversial by indignant City players and their fans. Agger appeared to go through Dzeko to get the ball but referee Anthony Taylor saw no foul and with the Bosnia international collapsed on the turf in their own half Liverpool played on.

The boos grew louder as the Reds made their way upfield but almost a minute had expired -- with City momentarily winning the ball back on the edge of its area -- before Sturridge scored. Gerrard rolled the ball forward to the former City striker who smashed a fierce left-footed shot past Hart.

"I feel like I am maturing a bit, getting a bit fitter," said Sturridge, who nevertheless finished the match with a bandage around his left thigh.

Liverpool finished the half the stronger and having continued that after the break, Mancini made a tactical switch 10 minutes in when he replaced Matija Nastasic with Aleksandar Kolarov and went to a back three.

That appeared to re-energize City but Gerrard hit a sweet strike in the 73rd minute that was very reminiscent of his goal in the 2006 FA Cup final. Gael Clichy's poor clearance from Jose Enrique's cross dropped to the midfielder 30 yards out and the England captain controlled the ball on his chest before unleashing a dipping low volley which gave Hart no chance.

Martin Skrtel was introduced for the tiring Enrique and after almost scoring at one end was involved in a mix-up with Reina which allowed City to equalize. Aguero raced onto Gareth Barry's pass and the goalkeeper's rush of blood saw him charge out to the left edge of his area, from where the Argentina international turned him and fired in impressively from a narrow angle.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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