Manchester City's hopes take hit


Rafa Benitez never won the Premier League in his six years with Liverpool but he did his old team a huge favor in its bid to end a 29-year wait English soccer’s biggest prize.

Newcastle, the injury-hit and relegation-threatened team now managed by Benitez, pulled off one of the surprise results of the season by coming from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1 on Tuesday.

City squandered a lead for the third time this season — this one at St. James’ Park arrived after just 24 seconds through Sergio Aguero — and the champions have lost their sheen of impregnability as they bid to retain the league title for the first time.

City remained four points behind Liverpool, which can extend its lead to seven by beating Leicester at Anfield on Wednesday. There are just 14 matches for both teams after that.

“When you are behind you have to win games, and we couldn’t do that,” said manager Pep Guardiola, who remarked before the game that one slip-up would leave City’s title hopes “almost over.”

It was a disappointing night for Manchester all around.

Manchester United’s interim manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was looking to become the first coach to win his first seven matches in charge of a Premier League team and continue his perfect start to managerial life at his former club.

That’s one record he won’t be holding after Burnley — a team fighting relegation like Newcastle — surprisingly drew 2-2 at Old Trafford, with United scoring goals in the 87th minute through Paul Pogba’s penalty and the second minute of injury time through Victor Lindelof to salvage a draw.