London (AFP) – Jermain Defoe scored two penalties as third-bottom Sunderland prevented Liverpool from significantly trimming Chelsea’s lead at the Premier League summit in a 2-2 draw on Monday.
Liverpool twice went ahead, through Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane, but Defoe’s two spot-kicks mean Chelsea will move eight points clear if they win at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.
Manchester City lost ground after losing 1-0 at Liverpool on New Year’s Eve, but they bounced back by winning 2-1 at home to Burnley despite the first-half dismissal of Fernandinho.
Liverpool, who were denied a fifth successive league win, were left five points adrift of Chelsea in second place, with City two points back in third place.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp made just one change to his starting XI, Sturridge replacing the injured Jordan Henderson, and the England striker gave his side a 19th-minute lead at the Stadium of Light.
Dejan Lovren miscued his volley from a corner, but Sturridge reacted sharply to swivel and redirect the ball past Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone with his head.
Defoe equalised six minutes later, netting his 10th league goal of the season from the penalty spot after Didier N’Dong was fouled by Ragnar Klavan.
Mane restored Liverpool’s lead in the 72nd minute, tapping in from a corner, but then conceded a penalty for a needless handball, allowing Defoe to equalise for the second time with six minutes to play.
Compounding Liverpool’s disappointment, Sturridge limped off late on and had to be helped to the tunnel at the full-time whistle.
– Bravo blunder –
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola gave Kelechi Iheanacho a run-out in place of Sergio Aguero and the Nigerian squandered an early one-on-one with Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton at the Etihad Stadium.
Heaton then got down well to repel a low effort from Yaya Toure before Fernandinho was sent off in the 32nd minute for flying in on Johann Berg Gudmundsson with both feet off the ground.
It was the Brazil midfielder’s third red card in six games and will earn him a four-game ban.
Guardiola turned to his bench at half-time, sending on Aguero and David Silva, and within 17 minutes of kick-off in the second half City were 2-0 up.
Left-back Gael Clichy broke the deadlock in the 58th minute, curling home with his weaker right foot, and four minutes later Aguero slammed home from a tight angle.
A blunder by Claudio Bravo allowed Ben Mee to reduce the arrears following a goalmouth scramble with 20 minutes remaining, but City held on.