Man City, Arsenal play out 2-2 draw to leave top four spots up for grabs

Kelechi Iheanacho

Kelechi Iheanacho’s hopes of playing in next season’s Champions League suffered a setback as Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez’s equaliser spoiled Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini’s final home game on Sunday.

While Kelechi kitted for the Blues, compatriot, Alex Iwobi, lined up for the Gunners.

Iwobi was substituted for Theo Walcott in the 59th minute while Iheanacho left the field for Raheem Sterling 11 minutes after.

Sergio Aguero fired City’s early opener into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud headed in the equaliser within two minutes, but Kevin de Bruyne’s solo effort restored City’s lead after the break.

However, Sanchez tucked in Giroud’s lay-off to ruin Pellegrini’s farewell before Pep Guardiola takes over.

City substitute Wilfried Bony’s late volley thumped the crossbar, leaving the usually placid Pellegrini with his head in his hands.

Arsenal’s fightback means fourth-placed City could still miss out on the Champions League even if they beat Swansea in their final game.

Fifth-placed Manchester United, who have played a game less than their neighbours, will finish above City if they win both of their final two games.

Arsenal need a point at home to already relegated Aston Villa next weekend to clinch Champions League qualification for the 20th successive season.

Following second-placed Tottenham’s 2-1 home defeat by Southampton earlier on Sunday, Arsenal knew victory would move them level with their arch-rivals going into the final weekend.

Arsene Wenger’s side were unable to take all three points, but they showed character to fight back twice against top-four rivals City.

The Blues produced a lively attacking performance after being criticised for a laboured display in their narrow Champions League semi-final second-leg defeat at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Pellegrini’s side deservedly led when Aguero found space to turn and drill in from the edge of the area.

A defensive mix-up between Joe Hart and Gael Clichy conceded the corner from which Giroud equalised, but De Bruyne’s run and precise finish edged City back in front.

The home side threatened a third before Arsenal fought back to earn a deserved point through Sanchez’s clinical strike from 15 yards.

Despite missing the chance to rein in Spurs, Wenger was satisfied with a point that puts them on the verge of Champions League football.

Only a shock loss against Villa, coupled with City and Manchester United taking maximum points in their remaining games, would see the Gunners finish fifth.

Wenger said after the match: “I am not disappointed because twice we were losing and twice we came back. It was a game that was very, very intense.

“I was surprised by the intensity of City’s start. We expected an intense game but they really came out with strong pressure.

“The good thing is that we absorbed it and we’ve shown good character today.”

For Pellegrini, “We should have won that game, and I think we deserved it. We played very well. Our first 25 minutes were some of the best here this season. But Arsenal’s goals were good.

“The effort, speed and character was good, and we were playing against a very good team.”