Manchester City remains on course for a first English soccer championship in 44 years after a 2-0 victory at Newcastle that keeps it atop the Premier League on goal difference from Manchester United with one match to play.
Yaya Toure got both goals in Newcastle yesterday to lift City to 86 points. Paul Scholes and Ashley Young scored for United as it beat Swansea City 2-0 to maintain the pressure on its rival ahead of the final round of matches on May 13.
City’s goal difference is plus 63, while United is on plus 55. City will host Queens Park Rangers in its final match, while United is at Sunderland.
“If we beat QPR, we will be the champions,” City manager Roberto Mancini told reporters. “But at this moment, we can’t think about this. We need to prepare very well for the next game, only this.”
City has now won five straight matches, including a 1-0 victory against United on April 30 that took it to the top of the standings. The 1937 and 1968 league champion had a number of first-half chances yesterday, with Newcastle also a threat on the breakaway.
Sergio Aguero had a low shot saved by Tim Krul on 17 minutes, while a few minutes later the Newcastle defense cleared after the goalkeeper was stranded away from his net.
Newcastle’s Demba Ba fired just over on 29 minutes and had a shot block by Gael Clichy five minutes later, with goalkeeper Joe Hart stopping the follow-up from Hatem Ben Arfa.
Ba also headed over before halftime, while City came close to taking a lead in the 41st minute. Gareth Barry had a shot blocked by Fabricio Coloccini and then a second effort cleared off the line by Davide Santon.
Mancini introduced Nigel de Jong and Edin Dzeko during the second half and both were involved in the build-up for Toure’s opening goal after 70 minutes. Aguero touched the ball to Toure, who struck a low shot into the bottom corner of the net from 20 yards.
Aguero should have doubled the advantage five minutes later when David Silva slipped the ball through the defense and left the striker with only Krul to beat. He was only able to slide his shot wide of the post.
Toure had a header over the bar in the 82nd minute and then two minutes later slipped over in the penalty area as he surged forward in search of another goal.
‘One Week More’
Newcastle, still competing for Champions League qualification, also had chances. Shola Ameobi had a shot blocked by Micah Richards and Hart saved from Ba.
The second goal arrived on 89 minutes from a quick City breakaway. Clichy collected the ball on the left side of the penalty area and slipped the ball through to Toure, who lifted it over Krul.
“I am excited because we are on the top, but it’s not enough,” Mancini said. “One week more and if we play like we did today, we have a lot of chance to win.”
United, the defending champion, can still clinch a record- extending 20th championship after it also won 2-0.
Both goals came in the first half at Old Trafford, with the opener from Scholes on 28 minutes. Michael Carrick had a shot at goal and his teammate flicked the ball into the net from close range.
Young got the second goal four minutes before the interval with a low effort into the corner of the net.
“We take the three points and hope for next week,” Carrick told Sky Sports.
In yesterday’s other games, QPR boosted its chances of avoiding relegation with a 1-0 home victory against Stoke City, as Bolton gave up a two-goal lead to tie 2-2 against West Bromwich Albion. QPR striker Djibril Cisse got the only goal at Loftus Road, in the 89th minute, maintaining his record of either scoring or being red-carded in every match since joining in January.
Aston Villa and Tottenham drew 1-1, Fulham beat Sunderland 2-1, while the match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton was scoreless.
Arsenal was held to a 3-3 tie by Norwich City two days ago, while Chelsea defeated Liverpool 2-1 to win the F.A. Cup final.
Arsenal is third on 67 points, with Tottenham on 66 and Newcastle on 65.
Blackburn hosts Wigan in today’s game and must win to have a chance of avoiding relegation.
Blackburn will remain in the three-team demotion positions even if it wins that match. Already relegated Wolves have 25 points, Blackburn has 31 points, Bolton 35, Wigan and QPR on 37, with Villa on 38.
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