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November 22, 2009

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Reds hold City but lose duo

DANIEL Agger and Ryan Babel added to Liverpool's injury woes yesterday in a lively 2-2 English Premier League draw with big-spending Manchester City at Anfield.

A win, in what under-pressure Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez had described as a potentially make-or-break match for his side's domestic ambitions, would have sent either club temporarily fourth in the standings.

Instead, City chalked up a sixth consecutive draw, one short of the Premier League record, while Liverpool had to come from behind to salvage a point and stay seventh.

Benitez was forced into making two unscripted substitutions within the first 18 minutes of a scrappy first half.

Agger collapsed with a gashed forehead in the fifth minute after clashing with Kolo Toure in the goalmouth as City keeper Shay Given made the save of the match to prevent Liverpool taking the early lead.

Sky Sports News reported that the Danish defender, who was carried off on a stretcher, had concussion and needed stitches to the wound.

Babel followed him off with an apparent ankle injury and was replaced by Yossi Benayoun, making an early return from a hamstring injury after travelling to Serbia for treatment involving the use of horse placenta.

Defender Martin Skrtel brought the match to life in the 50th minute with his first goal for Liverpool, the Slovakian defender escaping Emmanuel Adebayor to get the final touch to a free kick whipped in by Steven Gerrard.

Adebayor made up for it by heading in the equalizer from a corner kick 18 minutes later.

Two goals in the space of 74 seconds then rounded off the afternoon's entertainment, with Stephen Ireland slotting home to put City ahead in the 76th before Benayoun stabbed in a 77th-minute equalizer.

Leader Chelsea was at home to lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers in a later match while second-placed Arsenal traveled to Sunderland. Third-placed Manchester United was playing at Everton.

In France, Olympique Marseille beat Paris St Germain 1-0 with a goal from Gabriel Heinze to move up to fourth in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Marseille was clearly the better side in front of its home fans and took the points courtesy of a 25th-minute headed goal by Argentina defender Heinze, a former PSG player.

With 22 points from 12 games, the former European champion has closed the gap on leader Girondins Bordeaux, which was hosting Valenciennes yesterday, to three points.

The Paris club has dropped one place to 13th in the 20-strong league, nine points off the pace.

Friday's game was postponed from October 25, when it had to be cancelled because several PSG players were diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. The match was called off at the last minute after PSG fans had already arrived in Marseille, where some clashed with OM supporters. Twenty people, including 11 police officers, were injured.

Some 650 police were on duty in and around the stadium on Friday, with about 1,000 PSG fans having travelled to Marseille. No major incidents were reported.

PSG has struggled for years to keep its most violent supporters under control and its matches against Marseille have often been marred by crowd trouble.


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