Bloomberg News

Manchester City Cuts Gap Atop Premier League as United Stumbles

April 22, 2012

Manchester City beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 to cut the gap on Premier League leader Manchester United to three points as its rival was held to a 4-4 tie by Everton. Wolves are relegated.

Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri scored for City at Molineux yesterday, with the result confirming that Wolves will drop to English soccer’s second tier. United allowed two late goals to dent its bid for a record-extending 20th championship.

City manager Roberto Mancini said he still sees United as the favorite to win the title.

“We are there, but I think they have a bigger chance than us at the moment,” Mancini told Sky Sports. “Now to the end we have three very difficult games.”

United has 83 points with three matches to play, with City on 80 points. City hosts United on April 30 and a victory will lift it to the top of the standings on goal difference.

In yesterday’s other match, Liverpool missed an opportunity to move above Everton into seventh spot as it lost 1-0 at home to West Bromwich Albion.

United appeared set for an eighth straight home league win as it led 4-2 with less than 10 minutes remaining. Everton then rallied with goals from Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar at Old Trafford, then City took advantage to keep the title race alive.

“We just needed to see the game out and it was a travesty because some of our football was fantastic,” United manager Alex Ferguson told MUTV. “To give away four goals at Old Trafford in a home game like that, which was so important to us, is unbelievable.”

Wayne Rooney netted twice to move ahead of George Best in United’s list of all-time top scorers, with Danny Welbeck and Nani also scoring. Jelavic opened the scoring for Everton, with Marouane Fellaini getting its other goal.

Early Chances

Everton created early chances, with Leon Osman having a shot blocked by Rio Ferdinand and goalkeeper David de Gea making a save from Jelavic. Nani had United’s opening two efforts, while Rooney headed wide from a Patrice Evra cross.

The Toffees continued to press and Ferdinand twice had to intervene to keep them out.

Jelavic got his seventh goal since a January move from Glasgow’s Rangers to break the deadlock with a header over De Gea at the back post from a cross by Tony Hibbert.

Rooney then got his team’s opening goal with a diving header four minutes before halftime and the hosts took the lead on 57 minutes when Welbeck collected the ball near the edge of the area and curled a shot into the top corner of the net.

Nani Chip

Nani increased United’s advantage three minutes later with a chip over Howard, before Everton responded as Hibbert provided a cross for Fellaini to volley past De Gea.

Rooney scored the fourth goal in 13 minutes with his 33rd of the season. He now has 180 goals for the club, only trailing Jack Rowley, Denis Law and 249-goal Bobby Charlton.

Evra headed against the post with 10 minutes remaining, and seventh-place Everton scored soon after through Jelavic, before Pienaar took advantage of poor marking to earn his team a point.

“We’ve given City the initiative, there’s no question about that,” Ferguson said.

At Molineux, Carlos Tevez had the game’s first chance in the opening minute, firing just over the bar from long-range. Wolves defender Sebastien Bassong had a shot deflected wide soon after.

Aguero and Nasri both shot narrowly wide for the visitors, and Tevez had a low shot saved by Dorus de Vries, while Wolves’ David Davis tested Joe Hart from the edge of the area.

Opening Goal

The opening goal came on 27 minutes, Aguero’s 29th of the season. The Argentinean controlled a cross from Gael Clichy and slipped the ball past De Vries. City dominated the remainder of the first half.

Nasri secured City’s win with a 74th-minute goal, ending a three-year spell in the top flight for Wolves.

Last-place Wolves has 23 points from 35 games, Bolton 30 from 33 and Blackburn 31 from 35, with Queens Park Rangers and Wigan both three points clear of the relegation positions with three matches to play. Aston Villa has 36 points from 34 games.

Liverpool suffered its third home defeat of the season, with Peter Odemwingie scoring the only goal at Anfield. It was West Brom’s seventh away victory.

Two days ago, Arsenal and Chelsea tied 0-0, Newcastle beat Stoke City 3-0, and Tottenham lost 1-0 at QPR.

Blackburn beat Norwich 2-0, Fulham defeated Wigan 2-1, Bolton and Swansea drew 1-1, while the match between Villa and Sunderland was scoreless.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.


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