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Saturday, December 3, 2011
City thrash Canaries

ESPN staff

Manchester City offered further evidence of their title credentials as they demolished Norwich 5-1 at Eastlands.

City had to withstand a confident start from Norwich, but as soon as Sergio Aguero broke the deadlock with a piece of magic, the points were always safe. Further goals from Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson ensured a 12th win in 14 league matches.

It took half an hour for Mancini's men to strike, but when they did it was memorable from Aguero. He seemingly had nowhere to go with his back to goal inside the area, surrounded by defenders, but after jinking right and then left he finally settled for a cheeky toe-poke to find the back of the net.

City's second came after the interval, Nasri's well-placed free-kick finding its way into the corner as 'keeper John Ruddy got caught in two minds over how to deal with it. Yaya Toure then completely killed the game off with 20 minutes remaining before Steve Morison grabbed a consolation for the visitors, and it was left to Balotelli and Johnson to round off the scoring late on.

Manchester United battled to a 1-0 triumph in a forgettable clash against Aston Villa at Villa Park. The first goal of Phil Jones' club career gave Manchester United victory, the England international steering a six-yard volley past Shay Given after meeting Nani's delicate cross on 19 minutes.

United's victory was tempered by a serious-looking ankle injury to Javier Hernandez, who was forced out of the action in the first half. Villa also suffered injury woe, with Shay Given and Jermaine Jenas both being carried off.

Andre Villas-Boas' Chelsea side rode their luck as they earned an important 3-0 victory at Newcastle in which Frank Lampard missed a penalty for the visitors. Goals from Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge mean the Blues will finish the day fourth in the Premier League table.

Villas-Boas kept faith with a largely unchanged team from the one that easily dismissed Wolves a week ago, and that meant another day in the spotlight for David Luiz, who was fortunate to avoid a red card after only five minutes for dragging down Demba Ba. Referee Mike Dean was at the centre of all the action in the opening 15 minutes, pointing to the spot for a Chelsea penalty when Sturridge was tripped by Yohan Cabaye, but Frank Lampard's soft effort was tipped onto a post by Tim Krul.

Chelsea hit the woodwork again through Sturridge, while Ba did likewise for Newcastle at the other end. A breakthrough came seven minutes before the break when Juan Mata centred for Drogba, who lost substitute James Perch to power his header past Krul.

Drogba almost turned from hero to villain ten minutes after the break when he headed against his own bar, and Newcastle hit the woodwork again through Shola Ameobi. It needed Salomon Kalou to kill the hosts' challenge off late on before Sturridge had the final say in injury-time.

Tottenham continued their fine season as they comfortably despatched ten-man Bolton 3-0 at White Hart Lane. Goals from Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe did the damage for Harry Redknapp's men.

Spurs needed just six minutes to make a breakthrough, Bale flicking home at the near post from a corner. Bolton were then reduced to ten men for the second game running when Gary Cahill was dismissed for a professional foul, even though Scott Parker was about 40 yards from goal.

The only question remaining for Spurs was how many they would get, and Lennon added a solo second immediately after half-time. Defoe then notched a poacher's strike on the hour, and the score could have been more lop-sided by the final whistle.

Arsenal are up to fifth after they defeated Wigan 4-0 at the DW Stadium. The Gunners triumphed through strikes from Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen, Gervinho and Robin van Persie.

Arsene Wenger's side were grateful to a piece of poor goalkeeping from Ali Al-Habsi as Arteta handed them a first-half lead, the Wigan goalkeeper failing to deal with a swerving but saveable effort. Within seconds it was 2-0, Vermaelen rising to head home at a corner as Wigan left the post unguarded.

Perhaps the big surprise was that Van Persie was not scoring the Arsenal goals, and he unselfishly passed up an opportunity in order to create the third, laying the ball on a plate for Gervinho. Of course, Van Persie did eventually find the net thanks to Theo Walcott's assist, keeping the Gunners two points outside the top four.

At the bottom, Blackburn finally earned a morale-boosting victory as they beat Swansea 4-2 at Ewood Park. Rovers move off the bottom of table up to 18th thanks to four goals from Yakubu.

It took just over 20 minutes for Blackburn to silence the vocal detractors in the crowd, Yakubu producing a thumping finish to find the corner. However, an incredible header from Leroy Lita against the run of play dragged Swansea back into the game.

Blackburn were back in front on the stroke of the interval though, Yakubu heading into an empty net at the back post for his second of the contest, and his third also came in simple fashion after Chris Samba's header across goal. There was still plenty to do as Luke Moore reduced the deficit for Swansea, but Joe Allen saw red for a second bookable offence before Yakubu killed the game off from the spot with his fourth of the afternoon.

In the day's other 3pm kick-off, Queens Park Rangers drew 1-1 against West Brom at Loftus Road. Heidar Helguson opened the scoring on 20 minutes, but Shane Long found an equaliser nine minutes from time to earn the Baggies a point.




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