City stumble as Suarez enjoys dream debut

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London, Feb 3 (AFP) Manchester City lost ground to localrivals Manchester United in the Premier League title raceafter twice giving up the lead in a 2-2 draw away toBirmingham.

A share of the spoils at St Andrew''s left RobertoMancini''s men eight points behind leaders United, havingplayed a game more than the table-toppers.

Carlos Tevez gave Manchester City a fourth minute leadwith a neat, clipped finish following a pass from David Silvayesterday.

But Birmingham were level 19 minutes later when Serbiastriker Nikola Zigic scored from close range after getting onthe end of David Bentley''s free-kick.

City suffered a setback when defender Micah Richards, whofirst needed several minutes of on-field treatment, wascarried off on a stretcher following a head injury.

However, they subsequently regained the lead when, fourminutes before half-time, Aleksandar Kolarov curled a 25-yardfree-kick around the wall for a fine goal.

But City failed to press home their advantage and werepunished when, following Patrick Vieira''s clumsy challenge onKevin Phillips, the hosts equalised through Craig Gardner''spenalty 13 minutes from time to the delight of the St Andrew''sfaithful.

Elsewhere, new Liverpool striker Luis Suarez marked hisdebut off the bench with the Reds'' second goal in a 2-0 winover Stoke that saw the Merseysiders continue their resurgenceunder Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool went ahead two minutes into the second periodat Anfield when Raul Meireles crashed the ball in from 12yards after Stoke had failed to clear a Steven Gerrard shot.

Suarez, a 22.6 million pounds (36.3 million dollars)signing from Ajax on transfer deadline day and wearing the No7 shirt worn with such distinction by Dalglish, came on forFabio Aurelio shortly after the hour mark.

And in the 79th minute he sealed Liverpool''s thirdstraight clean sheet win under Dalglish when he rounded thekeeper and rolled the ball in despite a despairing attempt byAndy Wilkinson, who deflected the strike into his own net, tohack clear.

West Ham climbed off the bottom of the table with a 3-1win away to Blackpool.

Victor Obinna gave the Hammers a 24th minute lead atBloomfield Road when Blackpool goalkeeper Richard Kingsonallowed a near-post shot from the Nigeria striker to squirmthrough his grasp.

And the London club doubled their lead when Republic ofIreland striker Robbie Keane, signed from Tottenham ontransfer deadline day, scored on his debut to grab his firstleague goal since November 2009 when he followed up after twoblocks from Obinna shots. (MORE) AFP AH

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