Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes were dealt a crushing blow when they were held to a 2-2 draw by bottom club Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. Everton suffered a shock 3-2 home defeat by mid-table Crystal Palace at Goodison Park to put a huge dent in their bid for a top-four finish.
City, champions in 2012 and runners-up to neighbours Manchester United last season, failed to respond to their 3-2 defeat at leaders Liverpool on Sunday and stayed third in the table on 71 points from 33 matches, six behind Liverpool and four adrift of Chelsea with only one game in hand. Liverpool are in pole position to claim their first English title in 24 years, but they still have to play Chelsea at Anfield on April 27.
“We did not play well but we had in our mind the game against Liverpool,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said.
Sunderland remained rooted to the bottom of the table with 26 points from 33 matches, six points adrift of 17th-placed Norwich City.
“We deserved better,” manager Gus Poyet said. “We conceded a goal after two minutes at Manchester City and every single person in the world expected us to lose from there. But we passed the ball and created chances. We kept on believing.”
Goals from Jason Puncheon and Scott Dann gave Crystal Palace a 2-0 lead at Goodison Park before substitute Steven Naismith pulled a goal back for Everton.
Cameron Jerome’s strike restored Palace’s two-goal advantage and Kevin Mirallas grabbed a late consolation for Roberto Martinez’s side.
Everton’s defeat, which followed a run of seven wins in a row, left them on 66 points from 34 matches, a point adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal with four games remaining in the league run-in.
“It’s a real disappointment, a result which is hurtful,” said Martinez.