Kevin De Bruyne’s breathtaking long-range strike proved to be in vain for Manchester City as the defending Premier League champions twice squandered the lead in a 2-2 draw at Newcastle, further damaging their hopes of reeling in Liverpool in the title race.
City are eight points behind Liverpool, having played a game more than the leaders in their wobbling title defence.
De Bruyne chested down a headed clearance about five meters outside the penalty area, let the ball bounce, and let fly with a fierce shot that flew in off the crossbar in the 82nd minute, regaining the lead for City at 2-1 at St. James’ Park.
However, from a free-kick to the right of the penalty area in the 88th, the ball was played across to Jonjo Shelvey, whose first-time shot from outside the box found the bottom corner of the net. Shelvey used to play for Liverpool and it could prove to be his most important goal for the Reds.
“I might be a hero in Liverpool now,” Shelvey said, “but we need to get as many points on the board as quickly as possible."
While the draw moved Newcastle a further point clear of the relegation zone, it dealt a huge blow to City’s ambitions of winning a third straight league title.
Raheem Sterling’s 21st-minute goal put City ahead, only for Newcastle left-back Jetro Willems to equalize four minutes later from a cut-back by Miguel Almiron, who registered his first assist in 24 games since joining from Major League Soccer.
City failed to win at St. James’ Park for the second straight season. Pep Guardiola’s side lost 2-1 in January, which sparked a 14-match winning run that took City to the title — a point ahead of Liverpool.
City might have to go unbeaten for the rest of this season to even get close to threatening Liverpool’s bid to win a first league title in 30 years.