London (AFP) – Manchester City’s march to the Premier League title stalled on Saturday as 10-man Leeds beat the runaway leaders 2-1, while Liverpool climbed into fourth place after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s late strike sealed a 2-1 win against Aston Villa.
City are counting down to their third title in four seasons, but Stuart Dallas’s stoppage-time strike leaves them still needing 11 points from their last six games to clinch the crown.
Their first defeat in seven matches in all competitions came after Pep Guardiola made seven changes following their midweek Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Borussia Dortmund.
With Kevin De Bruyne on the bench at the Etihad Stadium, City were blow their best against lively Leeds and now turn their attention to cup competitions next week.
They have a 2-1 lead to defend in the second leg at Dortmund on Wednesday before Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley.
“We did not create enough for the forwards. It is part of the game,” Guardiola said.
“When they defend in the way they were you have to stop them running and we did not do that. The best moment we had in the game we make a mistake behind and we tried but could not score.
“We are going to rest and prepare two days for the game in Dortmund and decide on how we are going to play.”
Leeds took the lead against the run of play three minutes before half-time.
Helder Costa broke down the left and passed inside to Patrick Bamford.
Northern Ireland midfielder Dallas took Bamford’s lay-off on the edge of the area and hit a firm low shot that left Ederson rooted to the spot as it rebounded in off the post.
Moments later, Leeds defender Liam Cooper was dismissed for a foul on Gabriel Jesus.
Referee Andre Marriner initially booked Cooper after he caught the Brazilian on the knee, but changed his decision to a red card after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor.
City equalised in the 76th minute when Bernardo Silva flicked the ball into the path of Ferran Torres and the Spaniard clipped his shot past Illan Meslier.
But in the first minute of stoppage time, City were caught by brilliant Leeds counter.
Dallas raced onto a fine through ball from Ezgjan Alioski and guided a cool finish past Ederson.
It was Leeds’ first victory against one of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ clubs since their promotion last season.
– Liverpool late show –
Liverpool are desperately trying to salvage their troubled campaign by qualifying for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.
Beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday, Jurgen Klopp’s side knocked West Ham out of fourth place in the most dramatic fashion at Anfield.
Liverpool had lost their previous six home league matches, but Alexander-Arnold clinched their first success in front of the Kop since December as the Reds avenged their humiliating 7-2 defeat at Villa in October.
Villa striker Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick in that rout and he was back on the scoresheet after 43 minutes.
Taking a touch from John McGinn’s pass into the Liverpool area, Watkins hit a low shot that squirmed under Alisson Becker’s weak attempted save.
Liverpool were denied an equaliser moments later when Roberto Firmino’s close-range finish was chalked off by VAR for an extremely tight offside call against Diogo Jota in the build-up.
But Mohamed Salah levelled in the 57th minute with a close-range header after Andrew Robertson’s shot was parried into his path by Emiliano Martinez.
Villa winger Trezeguet hit the post in the second half, but Alexander-Arnold won it in added time when the right-back blasted home from the edge of the area.
In Saturday’s late game, sixth-placed Chelsea will move above Liverpool into fourth place if they beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
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