24 Jan 2016

City scrape draw as Leicester go top again

12:36 pm on 24 January 2016

Sergio Aguero scored twice to answer an Enner Valencia double for West Ham United and earn Manchester City a 2-2 draw and a crucial point in their push to regain the Premier League title.

Sergio Aguero of Man City celebrates.

Sergio Aguero of Man City celebrates. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Not for the first time City were thankful to their Argentinean luminary who twice struck when the 2014 champions found themselves behind to the excellent home side in a vibrant contest.

The Hammers' livewire Ecuadorian Valencia had put them ahead after 53 seconds with a sharp shot but City responded within eight minutes, Aguero equalising from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Carl Jenkinson.

All White Winston Reid's West Ham, inspired by the dazzling creativity of Dimitri Payet, took a second-half lead through a mixture of opportunism from Valencia and shocking defending by Nicolas Otamendi who dozed as the Ecuadorian nipped in to latch on to a long throw.

City, though, secured a point when, nine minutes from time, a loose ball bobbled to Aguero who coolly converted his 12th league goal of the season.

West Ham almost clinched the points at the last gasp when Cheikhou Kouyate headed against the bar.

Manchester City are now second, level on points with third-placed Arsenal who play champions Chelsea on Monday, but ahead on goal difference.

Leicester City returned to the top of the standings with a convincing 3-0 victory at home to Stoke City after Liverpool kick-started the morning's action with an extraordinary 5-4 win at Norwich City.

Leicester moved three points clear of the Gunners with 15 games remaining as Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy and Leonardo Ulloa scored to secure the win for Claudio Ranieri's title chasers.

Liverpool took the lead through Roberto Firmino in a lunchtime kickoff at Carrow Road but the hosts turned it round with goals from Dieumerci's Mbokani, debutant Steven Naismith and a Wes Hoolahan penalty.

Jordan Henderson, Firmino's second and James Milner then swung the game Liverpool's way only for Norwich defender Sebastian Bassong to score a stoppage-time leveller.

There was still time though for Adam Lallana to decide a rollercoaster of a match, sparking crazy Liverpool celebrations in which manager Juergen Klopp's glasses were broken.

Eight players were on the scoresheet in only the fourth Premier League match to finish 5-4.

"I think we were the deserved winner in a spectacular game," Klopp, who was involved in an altercation with a member of Norwich's coaching staff, told BT Sport.

"It is very emotional. We are in the middle of the chaos and react, sometimes we know what we are doing, sometimes we don't. The game is enough of a story."

Fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur's title push continued as they recovered from Jan Vertonghen's own goal at Crystal Palace to win 3-1.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli, with a stunning volley, and Nacer Chadli scored the goals for Spurs.

Leicester have 47 points, Manchester City and Arsenal 44, with City ahead on goal difference.

West Ham are sixth on 36 points.

After Kane had scored his 13th league goal of the season just past the hour, Alli put Tottenham ahead when he flicked the ball over his own head before swivelling and crashing a low volley past Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey.

"It was a fantastic goal," Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, whose side have 42 points, said. "I think it will be shown around the world on the TV."

Manchester United remain fifth, five points behind the Champions League spots after being booed off again at Old Trafford, following a 1-0 home defeat by Southampton.

Saints' Charlie Austin scored in the 87th-minute on his debut, heaping more pressure on United manager Louis van Gaal.

Lacklustre United managed only one shot on target and have now gone eight hours 26 minutes without scoring in the opening half of a game at Old Trafford.

"You can't say the fans are not right," Van Gaal told Sky Sports. "They are disappointed and have a right to boo."

Ranieri praised his Leicester side's passion and heart as they gained a timely fillip ahead of fixtures against Liverpool and title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City.

"The fans are dreaming and I want them to continue to dream," the Italian, whose side had won only one of their last four league games, said.

Drinkwater broke the deadlock just before half-time with powerful shot from outside the area, England striker Vardy netted his first goal in six league games after the break before some sublime skill from Riyad Mahrez teed up Ulloa.

None of the sides at the bottom helped their causes.

Bottom club Aston Villa remained six points adrift of the rest after a 0-0 draw at West Bromwich Albion, while the sides immediately above them also missed out on victory.

Sunderland, in 19th spot, drew 1-1 at home to Bournemouth while Newcastle United went down 2-1 at mid-table Watford.