MANCHESTER: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini insists his team can still retain their Premier League title despite falling nine points behind arch rivals Manchester United.
City were held 2-2 by Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, wasting the opportunity to reduce the deficit at the top of the table to seven points following United's 1-0 victory at Fulham 24 hours earlier.
Ultimately, after goals from Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard, City, who had led through Edin Dzeko, required a spectacular individual effort from Sergio Aguero 12 minutes from time to collect a point.
Despite the mounting odds, Mancini remained defiant, citing last season when City won the league so memorably by recovering an eight-point disadvantage over the final six games.
''The championship is not over, absolutely not, because of last season and also two years ago,'' he said. ''Chelsea were nine points behind, and they were only two points behind when they went to United in the final week.
''I don't think it is finished. There is room for mistakes. I think we probably need to win all of our games, but that can happen sometimes. Last year, we recovered eight points in six games. I don't know why this cannot happen this year. The season is long, three months to go, and United have to play FA Cup and Champions League. We are confident.''
Despite the fact that Dzeko and Aguero both scored goals - the latter one of genius - Mancini was critical of his strike force. ''It was a fantastic goal. But Sergio and Edin should play better. Today we didn't play well,'' he said.
Tottenham beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the other game thanks to another superb goal from star winger Gareth Bale, and are just one point behind third-placed Chelsea.
The game turned on the sending-off of West Brom defender Goran Popov in the 48th minute for spitting in the direction of Spurs right-back Kyle Walker, with Bale scoring 19 minutes later. ''I'm absolutely disgusted with Goran's behaviour,'' West Brom manager Steve Clarke said. ''There's no excuse for that. There's no place for it in life, never mind on a football pitch.''
Liverpool stayed seventh - nine points behind Spurs and six adrift of fifth-placed Everton.
The Reds' highlight was the performance of Sturridge who, despite suffering a first-half thigh injury which could rule him out of England's midweek friendly with Brazil, was in inspired form against his old club.
Meanwhile, Paul Dickov has resigned as manager of English third-tier side Oldham Athletic despite leading the team to a FA Cup victory over Liverpool last weekend, the club announced on Sunday. The 40-year-old former Scotland striker stepped down following Oldham's 3-1 loss to Walsall in League One on Saturday, the club's eighth defeat in nine league matches.