Liverpool held 1-1 at home by Wigan

Liverpool was held to a 1-1 draw at home by lowly Wigan while Manchester City defeated Newcastle 2-0.

updated: January 06, 2008 14:56 IST
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Liverpool was held to a 1-1 draw at home by lowly Wigan while Manchester City defeated Newcastle 2-0, a result likely to increase calls for Magpies manager Sam Allardyce to resign.

Both the Reds and the Magpies were jeered by their own fans with Liverpool slipping out of the top four and Newcastle losing its third straight.

In yesterday's other games, Brad Friedel saved a penalty and Blackburn edged Sunderland 1-0, while an injury time goal by Stelios Giannakopoulos gave Bolton a 1-0 victory over last-place Derby.

Needing a victory to keep pace with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez surprisingly fielded Fernando Torres as a lone striker against a team in the relegation zone.

Torres gave the Reds a 49th-minute lead. Steven Gerrard fed Steve Finnan, whose low cross was turned home by the lanky Spanish striker from close range.

Wigan responded when Titus Bramble equalized in the 80th minute. Gerrard failed to clear the ball and the Bramble scored with a powerful shot from just outside the area, moving Wigan out of the relegation zone past Sunderland, which slipped to 18th.

The final whistle was greeted by the rare sound of jeers at Anfield as the Reds slipped behind Manchester City into fifth place. Although Liverpool has a game in hand, it is 12 points behind leader Arsenal.

"You need to take your chances," Benitez said. "They had just one chance in the second half. We couldn't score the second goal and finish the game."

Elano gave Sven-Goran Eriksson's Manchester City a 38th-minute lead with a low, left-footed strike after Darius Vassell had guided a pass from Stephen Ireland into the Brazilian's path.

Michael Owen entered in the second half but City doubled its lead in the 76th minute when Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes scored moments after replacing Ireland.

Magpies defenders failed to challenge Kelvin Etuhu, and he laid the ball off to Fernandes who scored with a low shot.

"The pressure still mounts on us all and particularly me because we've lost a game of football at St. James Park that we shouldn't have lost," Allardyce said.

"We've all got to stick together and believe that the way we played will get us out of trouble and that starts at Stoke City on Sunday in the FA Cup."

City's victory at St. James' Park was its first on the road in the league since the opening day of the season.

Sunderland should have gone ahead at Ewood Park but Friedel saved Dean Whitehead's 50th-minute penalty attempt, awarded for Christopher Samba's challenge on Daryl Murphy.

Seven minutes later, Benni McCarthy scored his first goal in 11 games, a penalty awarded for Danny Higginbotham's foul on Samba. Sunderland's chances to reply were set back when Dwight Yorke was sent off in the 71st minute with his second
yellow card.

Last-place Derby, which has only seven points, appeared headed for only its second point since October when Giannakopoulos scored Bolton's winner.

The Greek midfielder collected a long ball out of the back, lobbed it over goalkeeper Lewis Price - who had raced to the edge of his area - and headed it into an empty net.