(Reuters) – Champions Manchester City dropped two vital points in the Premier League title race as Jonjo Shelvey’s stunning late strike earned struggling Newcastle United a 2-2 home draw on Saturday.
A scrappy game was drifting towards a draw when Kevin De Bruyne’s 82nd-minute thunderbolt looked to have won the game for City who began the day nine points behind Liverpool.
Yet for the second time in the match, a resolute Newcastle mustered a quick response with midfielder Shelvey curling a shot past Ederson in the 88th minute.
Off-key City still could have snatched victory with Raheem Sterling, who had scored their opener, having a late effort well saved by outstanding home keeper Martin Dubravka.
The expression on City manager Pep Guardiola’s face said it all as he walked off in the knowledge that Liverpool will move 11 points clear later if they beat Brighton & Hove Albion.
“We found a way and today we found it again but unfortunately, at the end, we conceded a goal,” Guardiola said, reflecting on how his side had 24 goal attempts and 77 percent possession but still failed to win.
“We could not score all the chances we had; they scored the two chances they had. Sometimes it happens. In good moments, be calm. In bad moments, live these kind of moments,” added the Spaniard.
When Sterling slotted City ahead in the 22nd minute after David Silva’s clever flick in the box it appeared as though City were in line for a routine three points.
But with their first meaningful attack Newcastle were level three minutes later as Miguel Almiron cut the ball back for Jetro Willems to take a touch and smash a shot past Ederson.
City enjoyed overwhelming territorial superiority after the break but lacked their usual cutting edge as Newcastle sat deep.
When they did penetrate the home ranks, Dubravka came to Newcastle’s rescue but there was nothing the Slovak could do when De Bruyne let fly with a 25-metre thundebolt that crashed off the underside of the crossbar and over the line.
It would have been a worthy goal to win any game but Newcastle had other ideas and were awarded a free kick when Fernandinho brought down Javier Manquillo just outside the box.
City then switched off and after the ball was played across to Shelvey just outside the area, his majestic right-foot curler gave Ederson no chance.
The final whistle was greeted with a huge cheer from the home fans who saw their side move six points clear of the relegation zone before the later kickoffs.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Chadband)