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Man City nearly in a whole hoop of trouble

CELEBRATION TIME: QPR scorer Charlie Austin (right) celebrates his goal with team mates

MISFIRING CHAMPIONS Manchester City were held by lowly Queens Park Rangers in what was a pulsating and entertaining game in West London.

This must be the kind of performance which Rangers Harry Redknapp had been craving from his team and knew they were capable of, if only they focused.

Redknapp could not have any complaints about his team’s performance as they gave everything they had, as they stood toe-to-toe with City for the duration of the game.

Rangers had two goals disallowed within a minute. The first was for offside but from the ensuing free kick Joe Hart placed the ball down but double kicked it because of the wind.

The rule states once the keeper kicks it out another player must touch it. The ball fell to Charlie Austin who fired into the net. However ref Mike Dean blew his whistle and disallowed the goal immediately and the Rangers players surrounded him in protest.

On the quarter of an hour mark, QPR nearly took the lead. Austin struck a shot but Hart saved his effort from point blank range.

Just before the half way point, Mauricio Isla slid a pass to Austin who calmly slotted the ball past Hart to give Rangers the lead. The goal had been coming for a while and City could not say they had not been warned.

QPR were like a team possessed. They were not only quick to the first ball but also the second. For a period they pinned Manuel Pellegrini's men in their own half and pressed them high up each time they got the ball.

When you play the champions it only takes a minute for them to turn the game around. Just after the hour mark, Eliaquim Mangala hit a long ball from his own half, which fell to the predatory Sergio Aguero, who twisted and turned past Sandro before hitting a shot, which squeezed past Rob Green to bring the away side level.

Shortly after that City nearly took the lead as Aguero latched onto a through ball, cut across and played the ball to Jesus Navas, who laid the ball to Yaya Toure.

However Toure’s shot was just wide of the post. Suddenly the tide had turned and City showed why they are champions.

Just before half time Hart had to make two saves in quick succession from Austin who was a threat every time he got the ball in the box. The score remained level at the break.

After the break QPR continued where they left off; passing the ball crisply and forcing City into errors.

Hoops' midfield ace Leroy Fer’s goal bound shot took a wicked deflection off Demichelis for a corner.

In the 75th minute Austin put a cross into the city box and with Bobby Zamora bearing down on Demichelis, the hapless Argentinian turned the ball into his own net to give QPR the lead once again.

A minute later City nearly drew level as Aguero went round Robert Green hit the ball goal wards, fortunately for the hosts Richard Dunne got back and cleared the ball, which fell into the hands of the grateful Green.

City were not done though. With just seven minutes of normal time remaining, the ever dangerous Aguero was played in from a long ball and he went round Green and toyed with the defenders, before passing the ball into the net to equalise for a second time. That was Aguero’s 12th league goal in just 11 games. It was quite ironic that both goals that City scored were from long balls. However, It does not matter how they come.

City went looking for the winner but QPR stood firm and rode out the storm. It was an excellent point for them, probably unexpected.

City on the other hand fell further behind league leaders Chelsea. Although it is early days, City will have to win games like this to have any chance of retaining their title.

Pellegrini said: “I think that was a difficult test. That was not our best performance in defence. As a team we must improve. There are 27 more games. For the moment it is difficult to say these are two points lost.”

A thoughtful Redknapp said: “I am disappointed. We worked hard enough and well enough to win tonight.

"We've played very well in the last four games. If we continue to play well we have got a good chance (of staying up).”

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