London - Manchester City routed Aston Villa
4-1 to open up a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League table
on Saturday after Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw at
Roberto Mancini left Edin Dzeko, David Silva, Samir
Nasri and Sergio Aguero out of his starting line-up but City were still
too powerful for Villa, one of only four unbeaten sides in the league
prior to the match.
Mario Balotelli's fourth goal in as many games
put City head on 28 minutes, the Italian striker hooking in an overhead
kick from close range after Villa failed to clear Adam Johnson's
Johnson turned goalscorer for City's second on 47 minutes before Vincent Kompany made it 3-0 five minutes later.
Warnock pulled one back for Villa but City made it four through James
Milner to leave Mancini's men brimming with confidence heading into next
weekend's Manchester derby.
In the early kick-off at Anfield, Manchester United came from behind to force a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
81st-minute equaliser from substitute Javier Hernandez salvaged a share
of the points for Sir Alex Ferguson's men after Liverpool captain
Steven Gerrard had fired the Merseysiders ahead on 68 minutes.
Ferguson later praised the contribution of goalscorer Hernandez.
you see the goal it's absolutely fantastic. His record of goalscoring
is unbelievable. He's just got that touch," Ferguson enthused.
revealed he had elected to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench after a
difficult week which saw the star striker hit with a three-match ban
from next year's Euro 2012 after his recent sending off on England duty.
"He was devastated by the suspension," Ferguson said. "I just felt all things considered he'd be better starting on the bench."
Third-placed Chelsea can close the gap on United to one point if they defeat Everton in the late kick-off at Stamford Bridge.
In other games Saturday, Bolton moved off the bottom of the table with a 3-1 win at fellow strugglers Wigan.
took the lead after four minutes when a Chris Eagles cross picked out
Nigel Reo-Coker. Reo-Coker was awarded the goal but replays appeared to
indicate Latics defender Gary Caldwell got the final touch.
Diame levelled for Wigan five minutes before the interval but Bolton
nosed back in front deep into first half stoppage time with a David Ngog
strike. Eagles made it 3-1 two minutes into time added on.
fought back to snatch a 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus
Road, but it was not enough to prevent Rovers from slipping to the foot
of the standings.
A fluky Heidar Helguson cross-shot handed QPR
the lead on 16 minutes but Blackburn struck back quickly with a powerful
Christopher Samba to level.
In a battle of the Premier League newcomers, Norwich downed Swansea 3-1 at Carrow Road.
went 2-0 up after only 10 minutes thanks to Anthony Pilkington and
Russell Martin before Danny Graham gave the Swans hope. Pilkington's
second on 63 minutes sealed the points for Norwich however.
bounced back from defeat against Swansea in their last outing to beat
Fulham 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium after goals in the final 10 minutes
from Jonathan Walters and Rory Delap.
Sunday's matches see Arsenal
take on Sunderland at the Emirates while Tottenham travel to St James
Park to face Newcastle and West Brom face Wolves in the Black Country