Pep Guardiola fails to prove Gary Neville wrong after Man City give Liverpool title hope

In pictures: West Ham v Man City

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Gary Neville’s prediction of another ‘twist’ in the Premier League title race came true as Manchester City dropped points at West Ham. Pep Guardiola’s side fought back to claim a 2-2 draw, but spurned a glorious chance to all but seal the title when Riyad Mahrez saw a late penalty saved.

City held a three-point cushion over Liverpool ahead of kick-off at the London Stadium, and knew a victory coupled with a favourable goal difference would likely see them lift their fourth Premier League title in five seasons. The defending champions enjoyed an emphatic away victory at Wolves on Wednesday night, with Kevin de Bruyne netting four times.

However, City made a slow start in the capital on Sunday afternoon and were ruthlessly punished by a double from Jarrod Bowen. The visitors trailed at the break, but almost immediately halved the deficit after the restart through Jack Grealish’s deflected strike.

City grew in confidence and controlled proceedings, and completed the comeback when Vladimir Coufal inadvertently headed into his own net. Both sides had chances to grab a third goal, but the best opportunity fell to the visitors when a VAR review led to the league leaders being awarded a penalty for Craig Dawson’s challenge of Gabriel Jesus.

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Mahrez assumed the spot-kick responsibility, but saw his weak effort comfortably saved by Lukasz Fabianski. City’s destiny remains in their own hands, but this missed late opportunity to all but seal the title proved Sky Sports pundit Neville correct.

Speaking ahead of kick-off, the former Manchester United defender told Sky Sports: “I think there’s a twist somewhere, I always think there’s a twist. They are incredible. They’ve got such good depth to be able to call upon, even with the centre-backs that they’ve got out. They’ve got Ake on the bench who cost a lot of money. They still have a brilliant squad.”

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Guardiola refused to be downbeat on the late penalty save, and focused on a point gained rather than two dropped. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was also quick to praise Michail Antonio and Bowen for their performances.

Guardiola told the club website: “It was a really good game. I think we played more than decent in the first half. Chances were so difficult to attack them. Very pleased to come back against West Ham like we did in this stadium.

“The transition with Antonio is so difficult to control and in two uncertain balls, it looks like nothing is happening, they put a ball in behind, Bowen gets it really well and finished. We scored an early goal and had a really good second half. A point that we gained.”

Liverpool now sit four points adrift of City but with one game in hand, and Jurgen Klopp’s side return to Premier League action on Tuesday night away at Southampton. The Reds host Wolves on the final day, knowing a home victory for Guardiola’s side over Aston Villa will be enough for City to retain the title.

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