Football: Man City blow golden chance to close on Chelsea

Burnley's Ashley Barnes (second, left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring a goal against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northern England on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Burnley's Ashley Barnes (second, left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring a goal against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northern England on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea when they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to struggling Burnley on Sunday.

Chelsea stuttered to a 1-1 draw at Southampton and champions City looked poised to close the gap at the top to one point when they scored twice in the first half against Burnley, but Ashley Barnes lashed in an equaliser nine minutes from time.

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris inspired his team to a feisty 0-0 draw with third-placed Manchester United and Arsenal climbed to fifth with a 2-1 win at London rivals West Ham United.

Fourth-placed Southampton took a deserved 17th-minute lead against Chelsea, running clear of the defence to slot coolly past Thibaut Courtois at St Mary's.

The visitors struggled to produce their usual fluent attacking play but equalised just before halftime when Eden Hazard brilliantly controlled a fine pass from Cesc Fabregas, cut inside and stroked the ball into the net.

Jose Mourinho's team remained top of the table, three points ahead of City. "I can believe Southampton defended with everything they have - with organisation, spirit and solidarity of players and the effort they fought to get the point," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "My players tried to win, especially in the second half."

Manchester City, seeking a 10th successive win, eased into a 2-0 lead against Burnley thanks to first-half goals by Jesus Navas and Fernandinho but the visitors got a lifeline when George Boyd tapped in just after the interval.

Barnes struck with a sweet strike from 12 metres to level for Burnley who hung on for a welcome point in their bid to avoid relegation.

Bottom club Leicester City won 1-0 at Hull City, Mame Diouf scored twice to lead Stoke City to a 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion and managerless Crystal Palace eked out a 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers.

Aston Villa overcame the sending-off of Fabian Delph to draw 0-0 with Sunderland.

Leicester stayed bottom, three points behind Burnley, Palace and Hull.