Liverpool suffered another blow to their Premier League title hopes as a scrappy 1-1 home draw with Manchester City on Sunday left leaders Manchester United seven points clear.
Former Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy’s heavily deflected shot after 51 minutes looked as if it would condemn Rafael Benitez’s side to a first home league defeat of the season before Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt’s late equaliser.
Liverpool,who face Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday,have now drawn six home matches in the league this season and their chances of a first league title since 1990 appear to be fading fast.
With 12 games remaining they are in second place with 55 points to United’s 62 after the champions clocked up a 10th consecutive league victory at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Third-placed Chelsea have 52 points.
“When you are playing catch-up you need to win so we are disappointed,” Benitez,who refused to concede that his side were now too far behind United,told Sky Sports.
“We lost two points but we still have to play at United so we will see.”
West Bromwich Albion remain bottom of the table after going down 2-0 at Fulham while Newcastle United hung on for a 0-0 draw at home to Everton despite having Kevin Nolan sent off for a dangerous tackle in the first half.
With talisman Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso both missing in midfield because of injury and suspension respectively,Liverpool created next to nothing against a City side with only one away league win all season.
Albert Riera wasted Liverpool’s only real chance in the opening half when he dragged a shot wide and seven minutes after the break Anfield was silenced by Welsh striker Bellamy who Benitez felt was surplus to requirements in 2007.
Brazilian striker Robinho was involved in the move that finally saw the ball reach Bellamy whose shot flew into the net off Alvaro Arbeloa.
Kuyt equalised after 78 minutes when he stabbed in Fernando Torres’s scuffed attempt and Liverpool could have snatched an unlikely victory through Yossi Benayoun.
Sixth-placed Everton missed the chance to close on the top four as they failed to trouble struggling Newcastle,although their manager David Moyes would have been more worried about an injury to Spanish playmaker Michel Arteta.
He was taken off the field on a stretcher after less than 10 minutes with suspected ligament damage to his knee.