Premier League: Manchester City lose ground in title race despite last-gasp James Milner strike against Hull
Last Updated: 09/02/15 11:29am
Manchester City’s title hopes suffered another setback as they needed a brilliant injury-time free-kick from James Milner to rescue a 1-1 draw against Hull City.
David Meyler had put Hull on course for a shock win when he pounced in the 34th minute but Milner's superb last-gasp strike snatched a point for the champions.
Chelsea's 2-1 win at Aston Villa means City are now seven points behind the Premier League leaders, though, and Manuel Pellegrini's side have now not won for five successive matches in all competitions.
While Milner's late equaliser left the Hull players disappointed at the final whistle, it is the champions who should be more frustrated by the result and another below-par performance.
In the first half they were particularly lacklustre and even though they showed greater urgency after the break they only once tested Allan McGregor.
The return of Yaya Toure from the Africa Cup of Nations cannot come quickly enough as they have now played six matches without him this season and not won any of them.
Hull were hardly in form themselves ahead of the match but they looked the more composed and comfortable side in the early stages and Joe Hart was the first keeper to be tested by a low shot from Sone Aluko.
The visitors should have gone ahead after 15 minutes as Ahmed Elmohamady headed Robbie Brady’s cross against the bar from close range.
City continued to struggle creating chances but they also looked unconvincing at the back and poor defending led to the opening goal.
Hart came out to clear when Martin Demichelis hesitated but could only find Jake Livermore, and when Pablo Zabaleta had another chance to swipe to safety, Gaston Ramirez nipped in and fired a shot against the post, Meyler reacting quickest to tuck home the rebound.
It might have got worse for City before the break as they failed to clear a Tom Huddlestone free-kick and the ball fell invitingly for Aluko, but he blazed over.
The introduction of Jesus Navas at the break helped the hosts raise their game and they finally tested McGregor with a snap-shot from Edin Dzeko.
David Silva then had strong claims for a penalty turned down when he appeared to be pushed in the back by Alex Bruce.
City continued to dominate possession but it looked like it might be Hull’s day when Aguero brilliantly controlled a cross with 89 minutes on the clock, only for his shot to rebound off the bar.
But Milner bent a superb free-kick around the wall in injury-time after Aguero was fouled to salvage a point for the champions, who face another uphill task to make-up a deficit in the title race.
Soccer Saturday reaction - Tony Cottee
"Manchester City started sloppily and I don't think they were at it for whatever reason; the pace wasn't there. I wouldn't say there was a lack of effort, they just weren't on their game.
"When you're playing at home to a team like Hull, you've got to take the game to them and City didn't. They started with a defensive midfielder and playing of tippy-tappy football. When Fernando went off at half-time and Navas came on things improved.
"No team is going to go throughout the season playing their best but they can't keep dropping ponts. It's going to be difficult to make that ground up. They need to start better and create more. Yaya Toure coming back will be a big boost."
Manchester City: Hart (6), Clichy (6), Kompany (5), Demichelis (5), Zabaleta (6), Fernando (5), Fernandinho (5), Nasri (5), Silva (5), Aguero (6), Dzeko (5).
Subs: Milner (7), Navas (6), Jovetic (5).
Hull City: McGregor (6), Bruce (6), Dawson (6), McShane (6), Elmohamady (5), Huddlestone (5), Livermore (6), Meyler (7), Aluko (6), Brady (6), Ramirez (6).
Subs: Robertson (5), Quinn (5), N’Doye (5).
Man of the match: David Meyler.