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Rediff.com  » Sports » PIX: Liverpool hold City as football mourns Speed demise

PIX: Liverpool hold City as football mourns Speed demise

Last updated on: November 28, 2011 12:23 IST

PIX: Liverpool hold City as football mourns Speed demise

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Liverpool put the brakes on Manchester City's title challenge by holding the Premier League leaders to a 1-1 draw on Sunday when the death of Wales manager Gary Speed overshadowed everything that happened on the field.

Speed, 42, was found hanged at his home after apparently committing suicide.

Earlier, Welsh side Swansea City drew 0-0 with Aston Villa with fans bursting into spontaneous applause during a minute's silence in his honour.

The first goal of the day came at Anfield where City, who finished the match with 10 men after substitute Mario Balotelli was sent off, took the lead in the 31st minute with a Vincent Kompany header.


Image: Manchester City's Vincent Kompany (right) celebrates after scoring against Liverpool
Photographs: Reuters
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Balotelli gets marching orders

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Liverpool equalised two minutes later when Joleon Lescott deflected a Charlie Adam shot past goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The England keeper had an outstanding match for City and made some superb saves to keep them in the game especially when they were down to 10 men.

Balotelli, who came on in the 65th minute for Samir Nasri, was booked twice in his brief appearance, first for pulling back Glen Johnson, then for appearing to lead with his elbow when he challenged Martin Skrtel for a high ball seven minutes from time.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish withdrew Craig Bellamy from his squad, explaining the Welsh forward was too grief-stricken after learning of Speed's death.


Image: Mario Balotelli of Manchester City is shown a red card by Referee Martin Atkinson
Photographs: Getty Images
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'No game of football is more important than grief'

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"It was best for me to make the decision for Craig," Dalglish told Sky Sports. "He was very close to Gary who was almost a mentor to him, someone he admired and looked up to, and he was upset.

"There's no way a game of football is more important than grief."

Speed was the first player to chalk up 500 Premier League appearances as his career took in spells at Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United. He became Wales manager last December.

Dalglish was pleased his side became only the second this season to take league points off City who remain unbeaten having won 11 and drawn two of their 13 games.

City, on 35 points, stayed five clear of Manchester United, with Tottenham Hotspur third on 28. Liverpool moved up to sixth on 23 points.

Image: The Liverpool and Manchester City players observe a minute's silence in memory of Wales manager, the late Gary Speed
Photographs: Getty Images
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'We were the better team at the end'

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"I think they started better than us but we were the better team at the end," said Dalglish.

"It was fortunate for us we got the equaliser as quickly as we did, it kept the spirits up. We tried our very best to win it in the second half but unfortunately we just could not get it over the line."

City, who had won their last seven league games but went to Anfield after losing 2-1 to Napoli in the Champions League in midweek, started the better team but were left hanging on to a point at the end.

Manager Roberto Mancini was satisfied with a draw on his 47th birthday but added Balotelli should not have been sent off.

"It's a good result for us because we played with 10 men for the last few minutes," the Italian said. "But for me the second Balotelli foul was not a yellow card, he didn't deserve it."


Image: Liverpool's Charlie Adam celebrates after his shot was deflected into the goal by Manchester City's Joleon Lescott
Photographs: Reuters
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Subdued atmosphere at Swansea-Villa game

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Earlier, Swansea's match with Villa was played in a subdued atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium as everyone struggled to come to terms with the news of Speed's death.

The minute's silence before the game was broken when fans burst into applause and began singing, "There's only one Gary Speed."

Villa goalkeeper Shay Given, a close friend and a former teammate of Speed's at Newcastle, was visibly sobbing before the match.

Neither team created many chances although Leroy Lita (Swansea) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (Villa) twice went close.

Four current Wales internationals -- Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor and Joe Allen of Swansea plus James Collins of Villa -- started the game.

Image: Ashley Williams of Swansea shakes hands with fellow Wales international player and Aston Villa's James Collins
Photographs: Getty Images
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'Shay was inconsolable'

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Villa defender Richard Dunne said: "It's been really hard. Before the match Shay told us the news and in the minute's silence he was inconsolable.

"Everyone who played with Gary or came across him knew what a good guy he was. This is a sad day. We had to play the match but everyone's thoughts were elsewhere, especially with his family and children."

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers said: "Our message was we wanted to play the game for Gary Speed. He was a great football man as well as a great player and a human being so the players wanted to do it for him."


Image: Aston Villa goalkeeper and Welsh international Shay Given (left)
Photographs: Getty Images
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