Manchester United’s problems mounted as they escaped with a 2-2 draw at lowly Southampton on Saturday.
While City remain the team to beat, their rivals United remain in turmoil after their winless league run extended to three games.
Jose Mourinho’s side desperately needed a victory at St Mary’s to stay in the hunt for a top four finish, but they ended up relieved to avoid defeat after falling two goals behind against third bottom Saints.
Southampton had won only once in 13 league matches this season, that solitary success coming at Crystal Palace on September 1, yet within 12 minutes they had carved open the United defence.
Nathan Redmond wriggled beyond four statuesque defenders on the edge of the penalty area before finding Michael Obafemi, who teed up Stuart Armstrong for a fierce drive that flashed past David de Gea.
Mourinho sat stern-faced on the bench as Southampton celebrated and his expression was even more vexed eight minutes later as Marcus Rashford’s needless foul on Mario Lemina led to Southampton’s second.
Cedric Soares lined up the resulting free-kick 20 yards from goal and curled a superb effort over the United wall and into the top corner of De Gea’s net.
Romelu Lukaku gave United a lifeline when he slotted home from Rashford’s pass in the 33rd minute as the Belgian striker grabbed his first goal in 13 games.
United suddenly had a spring in their step and Ander Herrera equalised in the 39th minute when he met Rashford’s low cross with a clever back-heeled effort from close-range.
But seventh-placed United reverted to their spluttering form after the interval and they are now six points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, who would increase that gap if they beat Fulham on Sunday.