PHOTOS: Man City 2, Burnley 2

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The Clarets claimed a spectacular point against Manchester City at the Etihad to end the calendar year on a high.

Though they remain in the bottom three on goal difference, the Clarets showed tremendous character to claw their way back from a two-goal deficit against the Champions.

Burnley players celebrate Ashley Barnes' equaliser

Burnley players celebrate Ashley Barnes' equaliser

David Silva and Fernandinho had given City a 2-0 lead at the break, but Sean Dyche’s side hit back with goals from George Boyd and Ashley Barnes.

There’s a reason why City are champions. And there’s a reason why Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be pushing Chelsea all the way in the defence of their crown.

Even with the omission of 19-goal Argentinian ace Sergio Aguero, captain Vincent Kompany and midfield driving force Yaya Toure, the Blues are simply magnificent.

The movement, vision and incision on display from the hosts was remarkable in a polished attacking performance in the first half.

Early opportunities fell for Martin Demichelis and makeshift forward James Milner but the defender was denied by a block from Jason Shackell while the England international lifted over the top after creeping between Shackell and Michael Keane following neat work from Silva and Jesus Navas.

And as the home side continued to threaten Navas fizzed an effort just over the angle from the edge of the box.

But the title-holders certainly didn’t have it all their own way in an entertaining opening 45 minutes at the Etihad.

A move that started on the right - with Danny Ings turning £32m centre-back Eliaquim Mangala on a sixpence - switched temporarily to the left, before reverting back to it’s starting position, resulted in Kieran Trippier’s exquisite cross grazing the outstretched boot of Barnes.

As the Clarets continued to press, Joe Hart spilled Dean Marney’s strike while Ings skied a shot in to the stands from 20 yards out.

The breakthrough came in the 23rd minute and it was courtesy of one of City’s most likely threats. The home side’s French connection Samir Nasri applied the penetrative pass through the inside right, Navas cut the ball back from the bye-line and Silva was afforded the time to turn inside the penalty area and fire past Tom Heaton.

Once Nasri skewed wide and Michael Keane headed over from Trippier’s set-piece, the hosts doubled their advantage.

With black shirts lining the penalty area and options at a premium, Nasri offloaded the ball to Fernandinho who took two touches before bending a sublime shot past Heaton via the underside of the crossbar.

Just before the interval Heaton stooped low to stop an awkward Navas strike.

With the Clarets 2-0 down at the break to the champions nobody - except Sean Dyche and his squad - would have predicted the game’s conclusion.

Boyd got the visitors off to the perfect start when pulling a goal back in the 47th minute, though an air of controversy surrounded the strike.

Ings worked exceptionally in the build up to get on the outside of Zabaleta and his low shot was flicked past Hart with a deft touch from Boyd, who appeared to be in an offside position. However, the linesman’s flag remained stationed by his side.

City looked for an immediate response and Nasri went close when the ball broke to him on the edge of the box, but Heaton did tremendously to plunge to his right and turn the effort around the upright with his fingertips.

From that point Burnley’s belief heightened and Shackell, Ings and Scott Arfield all had chances to level. The Clarets skipper looped a header over the bar from Trippier’s diagonal free-kick, Ings lashed a shot wide of the near post from Barnes’s assist while Demichelis got across to block Arfield’s shot at the vital moment.

The unexpected happened in the 82nd minute as Barnes prevented City from closing in on Chelsea at the Premier League’s summit.

Shackell provided the set-piece, the ball ricocheted in to the path of the striker who smashed the ball in to the top corner for his fourth goal in nine outings.

Heaton saved low from substitute Stevan Jovetic late on but the day belonged to the Clarets.