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Old 07-11-2009, 05:30 PM
fred tissue
Default Manchester City 3-3 Burnley

City will jet out tomorrow for a sunshine break in Abu Dhabi in embarrassed, rather than holiday, mood after dropping two home points against homespun opponents who had previously lost every away game this season.

Leading 3-2 after 87 minutes, the money men from Eastlands were left deflated by their fifth draw in succession in the Premier League, Burnley gaining their point with a close-range finish by the substitute Kevin McDonald, a £500,000 bargain buy from Dundee.

Burnley were 2–0 up, through a Graham Alexander penalty and Steven Fletcher's close-range strike, before a second-half revival saw City take the lead with goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kolo Touré and Craig Bellamy. It was not enough.

The return of Stephen Ireland and Emmanuel Adebayor was intended to restore them to full vigour, but it did nothing of the sort. Relegating Nigel de Jong to the bench to accommodate Ireland's attacking potential left them short of ball-winning muscle, and Burnley took full advantage, scoring twice in the first 32 minutes. There is something of a conundrum for Mark Hughes here: does he play De Jong alongside Gareth Barry in the centre of midfield to secure the lion's share of possession, or go for the extra creativity of Ireland or Martin Petrov?

Much more resolutely competitive than their grim away record would suggest, Burnley had already threatened through Robbie Blake when Joleon Lescott's careless hands presented them with a penalty which, with Alexander the taker, means a certain goal. After handling Mears's cross from the right like a line-out forward going up for the ball at Twickers, the England defender looked suitably embarrassed as Alexander beat Shay Given from 12 yards.

Bad soon became worse for City's expensive acquisition from Everton, when he played Fletcher onside to double the margin with a tap-in from Chris Eagles's right-wing centre. Two-nil down. City urgently needed to pull one back before half-time if they were to turn the game around.

Wright-Phillips thought he had done so, but his lob was disallowed for offside. Brian Jensen then denied Bellamy with a notable save before Wright-Phillips eventually made it 2-1 somewhat fortuitously, with a shot from 18 yards that was deflected in via Stephen Jordan's knee.

Cue second-half drama. Scathingly appraised of their shortcomings by Hughes during the interval, City took charge, needing only 13 minutes to turn deficit into profit. Touré equalised with a shot from seven yards after Lescott had atoned for his earlier fallibility by setting up the chance, accurately transferring Barry's long free-kick. Barely three minutes later City came charging back and Ireland's short through-pass allowed Wright-Phillips to supply Bellamy for what City thought was the winner. How wrong they were, Fletcher's headed knockdown was an invitation McDonald was not about to refuse.

Joe Lovejoy

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