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Football: Soccer-Champions City held to draw by Gerrard’s Villa

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BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Champions Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday after Erling Haaland grabbed his 10th goal in six games.

Jamaican Leon Bailey fired in a fine equalizer for Villa in the 74th minute after excellent work from Jacob Ramsey who provided a crisp, low cross which the winger curled into the top corner with a first-time left-foot finish.

Haaland had put Pep Guardiola’s side in front, five minutes into the second half, after connecting with an excellent deep cross from the right flank by Kevin De Bruyne.

The Norwegian, who had struck hat-tricks in the last two games, pulled away behind the back post and leapt to steer the ball home with a precise volley.

De Bruyne then hit the bar with a dipping free kick but Villa defended well against a wave of City attacks before Bailey struck.

Gerrard, who has admitted to feeling under pressure due to Villa’s poor start to the season, threw at Philippe Coutinho and the Brazilian had the ball in the net only to see the flag raised for offside.

No VAR review was possible for that effort, but replays suggested Coutinho may have been in an onside position and Gerrard said it had been a “legitimate goal”.

The result leaves City in second place on 14 points, one behind leaders Arsenal who face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Villa are in 17th and have four points from their opening six games but Gerrard suggested he had been rewarded for a more pragmatic approach.

“Sometimes you’ve got to put more legs in the team, sacrifice certain technical levels, you have to take some space away and people in the team who can win the ball and move forward with speed,” said the former Liverpool midfielder.

“Very proud – the players have come together today. They put an incredible amount of effort into the game, followed instructions. City are always going to have moments and we had to ride our luck, this is what we wanted out of the game and this is the game plan we gave them,” he added.

Guardiola said City had paid the price for not being sharp enough close to the goal.

“Good game. We conceded just one goal from one shot on target in 90 minutes. We were not precise in our final third touches and our simple things, especially in the first half. We had chances to score a second when the game was in our hands but we didn’t,” said the Spaniard.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis)

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