City win as Chelsea stumble Liverpool hold Blues at the Bridge

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Nov 11, (AFP): Edin Dzeko ensured that Manchester City kept pace with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with a late winner in a 2-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. As was the case with United’s win at Aston Villa the day before, City had to come from behind to secure a late win and stay within two points of the leaders after Sergio Aguero cancelled out Steven Caulker’s opener for Tottenham. The result extended City’s remarkable unbeaten home record in the Premier League to 35 games — a sequence dating back nearly two years. It also offered respite for manager Roberto Mancini, who had taken the bold decision to leave controversial forward Mario Balotelli out of his squad for the game. Aguero struck on 65 minutes with a polished example of finishing, latching onto a loose ball and committing two defenders before rolling the ball into the Spurs goal from six yards.

And with just two minutes remaining, all three points went to City as David Silva played a beautifully judged pass to substitute Dezko, who found the back of the Tottenham net with a superb shot on the turn. Spurs had taken a first-half lead on 21 minutes through Caulker, although it owed as much to poor defending and a rare slip from England goalkeeper Joe Hart as impressive finishing. Aguero was ruled to have fouled Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick from the right flank was met by centre-back Caulker, the ball hitting Hart firmly in the chest and then squirming agonisingly over the line. It was a piece of defending in keeping with City’s recent form, particularly in Europe, but Mancini had cause to go in at the half-time interval feeling aggrieved at referee Michael Oliver, who turned down two strong penalty appeals.

Two minutes after the opening goal, Williams Gallas appeared to handle as Aguero attempted to flick the ball forward in the Spurs area and, late in the half, Huddlestone body-checked Pablo Zabaleta. Huddlestone drilled a low, hard shot inches wide of the left-hand post as Spurs sought to extend their lead but City began to look more threatening as the first half wore on. In quick succession, Gareth Barry shot wide, Aguero hurried a shot off target, Carlos Tevez shot directly at Brad Friedel, and, in injury time, Silva’s lay-off set up Zabaleta, whose six-yard shot was, again, straight at the Tottenham keeper. City failed to carry that impetus into the second half, however, with Aguero wasting the best chance of the early exchanges when he beat the offside trap but fell over as he attempted to control Yaya Toure’s pass. Mancini threw on Maicon — to the delight of Spurs fans, who remembered the torrid time he was given by Gareth Bale in a Champions League tie with Inter Milan two years ago — as he committed more bodies into attack.

After Toure had shot into the side netting, the tactic paid dividends, with Aguero’s equaliser following just before the midpoint of the second period. Tevez rolled a shot just wide as City sought the winner, before making way for Dzeko after 72 minutes, although it was the visitors who carved out the next decent opening.
Toure and Vincent Kompany failed to stop Bale in his tracks and the Welsh international winger produced a vicious left-foot shot that was well blocked by the diving Hart. By now City were in the ascendancy, with Dzeko heading just over from a Silva corner and Aleksandar Kolarov seeing a shot deflected into the side netting after tidy play by Aguero. Silva shot just wide and Aguero was denied by an excellent double save from Friedel after being played in by Dzeko, who had the final say in the 88th minute.

Luis Suarez earned a 1-1 draw for Liverpool at Chelsea on Sunday after John Terry made a goal-scoring return from suspension but also picked up a serious-looking injury. Terry, returning to Premier League action after his suspension for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, opened the scoring for Chelsea with a powerful header in the first half. But he was carried off with a knee injury before the interval after an accidental collision with Suarez. Suarez, who was banned himself for racial abuse last season, headed in the equaliser with 17 minutes left and could have won the game when he raced through soon after, only to be foiled by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

The draw meant Roberto Di Matteo’s side failed to exploit the chance to put real pressure on leaders Manchester United, who now enjoy a three-point lead over the European champions. Terry had missed four domestic games prior to Sunday’s encounter at Stamford Bridge, although he had played in the Champions League and was an unused substitute in the 3-2 win at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. The former England captain used his programme notes to thank fans for their reaction when he warmed up against the Ukrainian champions. “It was an incredible feeling — the Chelsea fans mean everything to me and that gave me goosebumps,” he wrote. He was celebrating in front of them after 20 minutes when he headed home the opener. Daniel Agger had lost Terry as Juan Mata sent over a corner, with the Chelsea captain taking full advantage of the space and thumping his header into the top-right corner for his 50th Chelsea goal. The hosts deserved their lead after having the better of the early exchanges.

Oscar had the first chance of the game after Joe Allen was caught in possession by the Brazil midfielder.
Eden Hazard slipped the ball through and Oscar’s finish was just over Brad Jones’ crossbar. The visitors were set up in a different formation, using three central defenders to look after former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and with wing-backs in Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique. Raheem Sterling was used as a support striker but Brendan Rodgers’ team struggled to create clear-cut chances in the early stages, with Nuri Sahin and Agger trying their luck from distance. Terry had not looked in any trouble defensively but suffered his freak injury 10 minutes before the break. As he tackled Suarez on the edge of the penalty area the Liverpool striker lost his footing and tumbled onto Terry’s right leg, which was planted on the floor. Terry instantly signalled to the bench that he was hurt and he was carried off on a stretcher, with Gary Cahill coming on.

Chelsea could have gone into the break two goals ahead when Oscar played Mata through and the Spaniard slipped the ball between Andre Wisdom’s legs before lifting a shot over. Mata had another chance just after the break when he drove in from the right and arrowed an effort just wide. Torres also went close, meeting Oscar’s free-kick but seeing his flicked header saved by visiting goalkeeper Brad Jones, who used his knee to save the effort. Steven Gerrard looked to have injured his knee clearing the danger, but was able to carry on. The next chance went to Torres again when Ryan Bertrand crossed to the near post after being sent away by Mata, but Torres’ finish went wide. Liverpool made Torres pay for his wastefulness when they equalised in the 73rd minute. Suso’s right-wing corner was headed on by Jamie Carragher and Suarez escaped Ramires’ attentions to nod home from point-blank range. Suarez raced through again before the end but Cech rushed out to block and the Czech goalkeeper was also on hand to parry Enrique’s rising drive in stoppage time.

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