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Kewell goal sinks 10-man City

The winger strengthened Liverpool's hopes of finishing in the top two as Manchester City lost 1-0.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2006 21:02 IST

Australian winger Harry Kewell strengthened Liverpool's hopes of finishing in the Premiership's top two as Manchester City lost 1-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

The Australian winger's second goal of the season saw Rafael Benitez's side bounce back from their Champions League defeat to Benfica in midweek as they rattled up a third straight league win to go level on points with second-placed Manchester United.

City have now failed to win their last six Premiership games away from home and their miserable afternoon was complete when midfielder Joey Barton was sent-off against his home town club for two bookable offences in the 52nd minute.

Liverpool made four changes to the side which slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Portugal five days earlier, influential captain Steven Gerrard among those recalled after his surprise omission from the starting line-up in Lisbon.

Gerrard looked refreshed from his break and it was the England midfielder who was the architect behind Kewell's 41st minute winner which lit up a scrappy and unexciting first-half.

Gerrard out-fought Barton to send Kewell clear, and the Australian executed a crisp low finish to leave England and former Liverpool keeper David James well beaten.

It looked like the European champions would coast to victory, particularly when Barton, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Dutch defender Daniel Agger, was shown a second yellow for a cynical late challenge on Sami Hyypia.

Yet the 10 men of City pushed their opponents all the way with Jose Reina forced to make smart saves to keep out Trevor Sinclair and substitute Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Liverpool, who are now unbeaten in 14 at Anfield, looked sluggish for long periods. The absence of England defender Jamie Carragher, who was serving a one-match ban, unsettled the back four while they also had to do without Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso for more than an hour after an accidental clash of heads with Barton.

City's Greek striker Georgios Samaras was guilty of spurning the best chance of the game. The 6 million pounds (10.8 million dollars) signing looked certain to equalise when clean through but, to the astonishment of his manager, he fired well wide when he should have done much better.

The match was watched by England coach Sven Goran-Eriksson ahead of Wednesday's international friendly with Uruguay at Anfield. The Swede's appearance appeared to have a positive effect on Peter Crouch.

The Liverpool striker won almost every header and would have doubled Liverpool's lead in the 64th minute but for the woodwork.

First Published: Feb 26, 2006 21:02 IST