|Liverpool goalkeeper Pepa Reina made a costly error that gave City an early advantage [GALLO/GETTY]|
Manchester City moved three points clear at the top of the English Premier League with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
City were back to their usual blistering form after suffering a surprise 1-0 defeat to Sunderland on Sunday despite Roberto Mancini’s concerns of having two games inside three days.
City showed no obvious symptoms of exhaustion with first-half goals from Sergio Aguero, courtesy of a bad error by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, and Yaya Toure – who City will miss when he departs for the African Cup of Nations.
City lost midfielder Gareth Barry to a 73rd-minute red card, for a second bookable offense, but within a minute added a third goal courtesy of a James Milner penalty.
The calendar year of 2011 saw City collect 52 points from a possible 54 on their own ground and, after one point from their last two away fixtures, Mancini’s team relished the return to home turf.
Liverpool were without Luis Suarez, after announcing before kickoff that they will not appeal the eight-match suspension handed to him for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Even though the visitors brought on the experienced Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy before the hour mark, there was little hope of recovery until Barry, booked for a first-half foul on Jay Spearing, brought down Daniel Agger and was sent off.
However, within a minute, Skrtel body-checked Toure to the ground and Milner confidently planted his penalty kick high into the right side of the goal for 3-0.
City were back to their best on a day Liverpool will want to forget.
Spurs strut on
Jermain Defoe fired Tottenham into the Premier League title race as his second half strike clinched a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane.
Defoe’s clinical finish shattered Albion’s stubborn resistance and moved Harry Redknapp’s third placed side within three points of second placed Manchester United, who travel to Newcastle on Wednesday.
Spurs remain six points behind leaders Manchester City but that gap will be cut to just three if the north Londoners win their game in hand at home to Everton next week.
Redknapp has been coy about Spurs’ chances of mounting a serious title challenge, preferring instead to concentrate on clinching the top four place that would guarantee Champions League action next season.
|On the rise: Defoe celebrates scoring the only goal for title-challenging Spurs [GALLO/GETTY]|
This victory was a boost to that European ambition, but it also provides Spurs with a realistic opportunity of catching the top two.
The only negative for Redknapp was a pair of injuries to Brazilian midfielder Sandro and French defender William Gallas and he will hope neither is sidelined for long.
Sunderland maintained their revival under new boss Martin O’Neill with a 4-1 win over Wigan.
Following their shock 1-0 win over league leaders Manchester City last Sunday, Sunderland won their fourth match from six since O’Neill took over as manager from Steve Bruce.
Wigan, without suspended captain Gary Caldwell, dominated the first half but hit the posts twice, and Sunderland led into halftime thanks to Craig Gardner’s 30-meter free kick.
James McClean made it 2-0 before Hugo Rodallega halved the deficit, but Sunderland finished strong with goals from Stephane Sessegnon and David Vaughan.
Martin O’Neill has provided the Midas touch for Sunderland as they move into the top half of the table.