Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that coming up against teams in a relegation battle is always tricky.

Pellegrini's Manchester City were held to a 2-2 draw by Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night which squandered their hopes of heaping pressure on league leaders Liverpool.

City are now seven points behind the Reds with a game in hand after Black Cats youngster Connor Wickham scored twice in between an early opener from Fernandinho and a late leveller from Samir Nasri and Pellegrini acknowledged that it was a hard slog against Gus Poyet's bottom-placed side.

"We started very well but as the game continued we started losing the ball too easy and we didn't recover well," he told Sky Sports.

"I always say that playing against relegation teams at the end of the season is very difficult because they fight.

"Sunderland fought a lot and played better than we did at times."

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