Leader City drops points for only 4th time in Burnley draw

Leader City drops points for only 4th time in Burnley draw
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling reacts after a missed chance, during the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Manchester City at Turf Moor, in Burnley, England, Saturday Feb. 3, 2018. (Richard Sellers/PA via AP)

BURNLEY, England (AP) — Runaway leader Manchester City conceded a late equalizer at Burnley to drop points for only the fourth time this season in the Premier League, drawing 1-1 on Saturday.

City has now failed to win its last three away games, including a loss at Liverpool that ended the unbeaten start, but Pep Guardiola’s side is 16 points clear at the summit.

City defender Danilo had looked like proving an unlikely match-winner with a fine strike after 22 minutes of an otherwise frustrating day for City.

But after Raheem Sterling spurned a gilt-edged chance to put the game beyond doubt, the hosts grew in confidence and earned their reward when Johann Berg Gudmundsson turned in Matt Lowton’s deep cross in the 82nd minute.

Despite the wealth of talent, City’s matchday squad was depleted and Guardiola was only able to name six substitutes.

With record signing Amyeric Laporte on the bench, Vincent Kompany returned to the starting lineup and the City captain was soon in the thick of the action, clashing with both Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes.

Burnley’s back four, despite the absence of James Tarkowski, was well drilled and it required patience to break them down.

City controlled possession but its final pass was poor. Bernardo Silva did clip a dangerous cross into the box but Kompany could not get a touch and Sterling had no joy with a long-range shot.

City’s breakthrough came from an unusual source after Sterling won a corner. The set piece was taken short and Kevin De Bruyne found Danilo in space outside the area. The Brazilian picked his spot and delivered a superb shot beyond goalkeeper Nick Pope.

City continued to press and Sergio Aguero had an effort blocked before Sterling and De Bruyne shot at the keeper.

Burnley was far more direct than City and made efficient use of limited possession to create a couple of chances. On both occasions Ben Mee might have done better as he first forced a save from Ederson from a lobbed ball into the box and then headed wide following a corner.

City looked to kill off the game early in the second half but Burnley’s back line held firm, denying Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan a sight of goal before Sterling fired over. City even looked to Danilo again as frustration grew but this time Pope tipped over.

Burnley retained a threat on the break and almost snatched an equalizer when Aaron Lennon’s thunderous shot was touched onto the post by Ederson.

That injected more urgency into City and Sterling should have scored when he was picked out in front of an open goal by Kyle Walker but somehow he sidefooted wide.

Burnley’s defense would not yield as its attacking threat grew — culminating in Gudmundsson’s leveler.