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Thursday 14 December 2017

Mancini insists fourth place finish in City's hands

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini will target victories over Tottenham and Aston Villa in a bid to claim Champions League football.

City needed a stoppage-time equaliser from substitute Adam Johnson to snatch a point at Sunderland, which took them to within two points of fourth-placed Spurs with a game in hand.

However, former Inter Milan coach Mancini is confident the quest for a top-four finish remains firmly in City's hands.

He said: "There is no change. We have one game in hand, we must play against Tottenham at home, we must play against Aston Villa. We have 10 games to play. It will all depend on us.

"But I think if we want to reach fourth spot, we must win these games."

City might have arrived at the Stadium of Light hoping to collect another three points, but at half-time they trudged off the pitch trailing to Kenwyne Jones' ninth-minute header and having been second-best.

They rallied after the break and had it not been for the brilliance of Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who made five excellent saves -- three of them from Craig Bellamy -- City would have been back on terms long before the clock ticked into stoppage time.

However, 22-year-old Johnson, the Sunderland-born winger who turned down his hometown club in January to seal a £7m switch to City from Middlesbrough, struck at the death with a fine curling effort to claim a point for the Eastlands outfit.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, who saw Jones limp off at half-time with a groin injury, which could sideline him for a month, was devastated to have victory snatched from his grasp, but proud of his players and Gordon in particular.

He said: "In the second half, he (Gordon) was terrific.

"He has been out for eight weeks -- I think we have had eight now who have been out for more than eight or nine weeks.

"That, out of a squad of 22, is right on the limit.

"Craig didn't have to prove anything. He is a very good goalkeeper and he needed to play games.

"That will do him the world of good today. I thought he had done enough to win us the match.

"It's ironic. It would be him (Johnson), a Sunderland fan -- I can see the headlines.

"We were on his case for months, but unfortunately in the end, he chose Manchester City, which was obviously disappointing for us, but there you have it."

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