QPR 2, MANCHESTER CITY 2
Charlie Austin and Martin Demichelis own goal put QPR into the lead
Sergio Aguero scores twice; Edin Dzeko goes off injured leaving City with two fit strikers
A double strike by Sergio Aguero ensured that Manchester City avoided another damaging defeat in the Barclays Premier League but a 2-2 draw at Loftus Road meant that City have now fallen eight points behind league leaders Chelsea after just 11 games this season.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini opted for four changes from the midweek defeat to CSKA at home. He bolstered midfield by deploying Aguero as a lone striker with support from Yaya Toure.
There were also starts for Eliaquim Mangala – in for the injured City captain Vincent Kompany while Bacary Sagna, Fernandinho, and Samir Nasri replaced Pablo Zabaleta, Stevan Jovetic, and James Milner.
City were in serious danger of losing at relegation strugglers QPR in a rain swept West London encounter when they went behind after 21 minutes to a Charlie Austin strike.
It was the least the R’s deserved after they had two earlier goals chalked off and a penalty claim denied in a frenetic opening period.
Austin’s first ‘goal’, a header, was ruled out for offside when he rose to meet a right wing cross.
Joe Hart’s free kick from that offside went straight to the QPR striker who smashed it home but that was ruled out too with referee Mike Dean having spotted that Joe Hart had touched his free kick twice, with the first touch having failed to leave the area. A rules technicality saved City’s blushes.
Hart’s flying save denied Austin again but the home fans didn’t have long to wait before Austin scored his fourth Premier League goal in three games after profiting from Eduardo Vargas’ assist.
Aguero remained City’s main attacking threat and he levelled the game after receiving a long pass from Mangala and threading his shot though Rob Green after 32 minutes despite a whiff of handball and offside in the build-up by the Argentine.
Defensive frailty has dogged City all season and Martin Demichelis’ own goal put the R’s back into the lead – the Argentine defender unfortunately beat his own ‘keeper under pressure by Bobby Zamora from Austin’s cross in the 76th minute.
With their title hopes fading fast, City threw everything into attack and Richard Dunne cleared Aguero’s shot on the line while Steven Caulker also denied James Milner’s header.
City’s blushes were saved when Aguero fired home the equaliser while surrounded by QPR defenders with seven minutes to go after Yaya Toure provided the final pass with a long ball from midfield.
While Aguero is the Premier League’s form striker with 12 goals in 11 games this season, Manuel Pellegrini’s front line alternatives since the close season have been cut with the sale of Alvaro Negredo to Valencia, niggling injuries and loss of form to Jovetic, and now the loss of Edin Dzeko to a suspected hamstring injury minutes after coming on as a second half substitute.
Rangers substitute Joey Barton, sent off when City dramatically won the league in May 2012, bravely blocked Toure’s late shot which would have won the game as they held on for the draw.