Edin Dzeko’s brace helped Manchester City come from behind to beat Everton 3-2 and stay in control of the Premier League title race on Saturday. Elsewhere, Sunderland’s win over Manchester United relegated Cardiff City and Fulham, who both lost on the day.
City had won just one of its last 15 matches at Goodison Park and looked like continuing its poor run when Ross Barkley curled in a brilliant shot to give Everton an 11th-minute lead. However, Sergio Aguero equalized in the 22nd before going off with an apparent groin injury and Dzeko scored twice in a five-minute span around halftime to put City 3-1 ahead.
Romelu Lukaku’s goal in the 65th set up a tense finish but City held on to provisionally go top of the standings on goal difference from Liverpool. Victories in its two remaining games (at home to Aston Villa on Wednesday and West Ham on Sunday) should clinch City a second championship in three years.
Liverpool, which lost 2-0 to Chelsea last weekend, was looking for a big favor from its Merseyside neighbor to wrest back the advantage in this most open title race and Barkley’s goal will have been celebrated as much across Stanley Park as by Everton fans inside Goodison Park.
The 20-year-old midfielder curled a first-time shot into the top corner from just outside the area. But Everton was second best after that with City controlling possession and looking more dangerous going forward, even with the 28th-minute withdrawal of Aguero that continued his frustrating, injury-plagued second half of the season.
The Argentina striker had been signaling to City’s bench that he was hampered by his injury minutes before he sprinted onto Yaya Toure’s through-ball and drove a low shot inside goalkeeper Tim Howard’s near post for his 28th goal of the season.
Just before halftime, Dzeko rose to head home James Milner’s floated cross, moments after the striker had seen his shot saved by Howard. In a lively start to the second half, City goalkeeper Joe Hart produced a brilliant save to tip Steven Naismith’s shot around the post. City then broke at the other end, Fernandinho clipping a pass to Nasri, who went outside his marker and crossed low for Dzeko to prod in from six meters. The visitors appeared to be coasting to victory but Lukaku headed in a cross from Leighton Baines in off the post and City was suddenly under pressure. There were few scares in a nervy final quarter, though, as City ended a four-game losing streak at Goodison Park to become the big favorite for the title.
The trap door closed on Cardiff City and Fulham as crushing away defeats condemned both to relegation from the Premier League with Sunderland moving to the brink of survival. Sunderland’s surprise 1-0 win at Manchester United meant that Cardiff’s 3-0 loss at Newcastle United ensured a return to the Championship for the Welsh club a year after returning to the top flight for the first time since 1962.
Fulham, members of the Premier League since 2001, were thumped 4-1 at Stoke City. Sebastian Larsson’s 30th minute winner for Sunderland at Old Trafford, where Ryan Giggs was in charge of United for the second time, meant Sunderland moved to 35 points, five more than Cardiff and four ahead of Fulham who both have one game left.
Peter Odemwingie, Marko Arnautovic, Oussama Assaidi and Jonathan Walters scored for Stoke while Shola Ameobi, Loic Remy and Steven Taylor were on target for Newcastle who snapped a bad run of form that prompted a fans’ protest against manager Alan Pardew and owner Mike Ashley during the game. Defeat for Norwich City (32) at Chelsea on Sunday would essentially relegate them too.
West Ham United guaranteed their safety, reaching 40 points with a 2-0 win over 10-man Tottenham Hotspur. An own goal by Spurs striker Harry Kane and Stewart Downing’s free kick put West Ham in control before halftime after Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul was red-carded for bundling over Downing who was racing towards goal.
Results: Aston Villa 3 Hull 1, Everton 2 Manchester City 3, Manchester United 0 Sunderland 1, Newcastle 3 Cardiff 0, Stoke 4 Fulham 1, Swansea 0 Southampton 1, West Ham 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0.
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