Liverpool maintain fine record against Manchester City

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Manchester City went five points clear at the top of the English Premier League table after a 1-1 draw away to Liverpool on Sunday as English football mourned the shock death of Wales boss Gary Speed.

City grabbed the lead after the half hour mark when captain Vincent Kompany glanced in a header from a David Silva corner.

But just two minutes later Liverpool were level when Kompany’s clearance from the edge of the area found Dirk Kuyt and the Dutchman laid the ball into the path of the advancing Charlie Adam.

The Scotland international didn’t strike the ball cleanly but his shot took a huge deflection off City defender Joleon Lescott for an own-goal that left England goalkeeper Joe Hart wrong-footed. City were reduced to 10 men with eight minutes left when striker Mario Balotelli was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Both sides had chances in the second half but neither could force a winner and in stoppage time Hart saved Liverpool substitute striker Andy Carroll’s goalbound header.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said Balotelli was unlucky to be sent off, questioning the second yellow card when the Italian clumsily jumped into Martin Skrtel.

“For me the second was not a yellow card,” Mancini said.

Balotelli had words on the touchline with his manager following his red card but Mancini said: “We don’t have any problems. He is young, I think he was disappointed for the yellow card.”

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, whose side are now sixth in the table, said: “The performance was fantastic. I don’t think they got what they fully deserved, they deserved all three points.

“We tried our very best to win it but we couldn’t get it over the line. In both games against the Manchester clubs we played very well. We need to keep going and keep concentrating.”

This result left City five points in front of local rivals Manchester United after the reigning champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle on Saturday.

However, the City match was overshadowed by the announcement earlier in the day of the death of Wales manager Gary Speed at the age of 42.

Dalglish withdrew Craig Bellamy, the Wales striker and a close friend of Speed’s, from his squad before kick-off.

“I felt that ‘Bellas’ – who was really close to Gary – would not be in the frame of mind to play,” said Dalglish.

Dalglish, reflecting on Speed, added: “He was a smashing lad and was really well respected.

“It’s at times like this that the football becomes a wee bit irrelevant.

“I signed Gary for 5 million pounds from Everton and he did a fantastic job for us at Newcastle, during the time I was there and after I’d left as well.”

Both at Anfield and at the Liberty Stadium, where Swansea drew 0-0 with Aston Villa in the day’s other Premier League match, a minute’s silence in memory of Speed was observed before kick-off.

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