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City cruise, Chelsea extend lead Arsenal fight back to sink West Ham 3-1

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Oct 6, (AFP): Sergio Aguero justified Roberto Mancini’s decision to haul off Mario Balotelli as the Manchester City striker came on to score the crucial goal in his side’s 3-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday. Argentina star Aguero was introduced by City boss Mancini as a 55th minute replacement for Balotelli, much to the disapproval of the controversial Italian, who took an age to saunter off the field and headed straight down the tunnel, rather than taking his position next to Mancini on the City bench. However, within five minutes, Aguero had scored for City, adding to an early goal from Aleksandar Kolarov, and leaving the outcome of the contest at Eastlands in no doubt.

There was still time for James Milner to add a late third goal for City, who won for just the second time in seven games in all competitions and kept their first cleansheet of the season at the 10th attempt.
After Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League added to their recent struggles, this was a far more emphatic performance from the Premier League champions.
Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar helped their cause in the fifth minute with a terribly-timed, scything challenge on Carlos Tevez that gifted City a free-kick on the corner of the penalty area.
Serbian defender Kolarov punished the infringement from the set-piece, curling an unstoppable left-footed free-kick past Simon Mignolet for his third goal in four City games. That was the springboard for an easy afternoon for City.

Balotelli shot over from 22 yards before Tevez’s shot was blocked by Mignolet with Pablo Zabaleta’s follow-up save drawing a fine stop from the Sunderland goalkeeper.
The best chance of a second goal seemed to come from a high boot by Gardner which caught Balotelli in the face after 24 minutes, presenting Kolarov with another convertable free-kick although, this time, the Serbian saw his effort strike Seb Larsson.
Sunderland forced Joe Hart into his first meaningful action in the City goal, after 38 minutes, with the England keeper comfortably stopping a deflected Steven Fletcher shot.
The half ended with City again threatening, with Gareth Barry’s 20-yard shot, after good approach play from Milner and David Silva, whistling past the post.

Fletcher, the only player to have scored in the league for Sunderland this season, opened the second period with a first-time volley which struck his marker Micah Richards without troubling Hart.
And City were quickly back in control as Barry’s pass found Silva whose back heel, in turn, played in Yaya Toure for a thunderous shot which Mignolet did well to parry.
The champions maintained the pressure as a Milner cross was met by Richards who, having seen his header blocked, followed up with a goal-bound shot that Sunderland full-back Danny Rose cleared off the line.

Chelsea 4, Norwich City 1
In London, Chelsea maintained their grip on the top spot in the Premier League with a 4-1 victory over Norwich City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Goals from Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic wiped away an early Norwich lead courtesy of Grant Holt.
And that meant neither John Terry or Ashley Cole would be generating many new headlines on this occasion.

Both defenders had been named in the Chelsea starting line-up after being the number one talking point in sport for the previous 24 hours.
On Friday, the Football Association had published the conclusions made by a three-man regulatory commission into a mid-game incident almost a year ago that saw Terry accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, the Queens Park Rangers defender.
Terry had already been told he faces a four-match ban and must pay a £220,000 fine and a 63-page report explained the panel found his version of events “improbable, implausible and contrived” and that Cole’s evidence in support of his team-mate had ‘evolved’.

Cole’s immediate reaction that day had been to insult the FA through his Twitter account, which led to the post being deleted and an apology issued through his solicitor.
But both players were cheered throughout the game by the home fans, who have seen their favourites establish a four-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City.
Norwich, who have not won any of their Premier League fixtures this season, took the lead in the 11th minute through Holt.
Wes Hoolahan’s cross was met beyond the back post by Leon Barnett and his header was thumped low past goalkeeper Petr Cech for Holt’s second goal in as many games.
Chelsea were back on level terms four minutes later when Juan Mata’s back-heel allowed Ivanovic to cross from the right for Torres to head home.

West Ham 1, Arsenal 3
In London, Theo Walcott sent a message to Arsene Wenger as the Arsenal star came off the bench to inspire his side’s 3-1 win at West Ham on Saturday.
Not for the first time this season Walcott found himself left on the substitutes’ bench, but the England international’s second-half introduction played a key role in Arsenal’s third Premier League win of the campaign.

Mohamed Diame had handed West Ham the lead in the first half before French striker Olivier Giroud ended his Premier League goal drought to equalise just before half-time.
Walcott, who is yet to sign a new contract after making it clear to Wenger he wants to be used as a forward rather than a winger, came on to put Arsenal ahead with a clinical finish in the second half before Santi Cazorla completed the win late on to lift the Gunners into fifth place.
Giroud, a £12 million signing from Montpellier, almost ended his wait for a first league goal when his low shot was pushed aside by West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen inside two minutes.
If that was warning sign, West Ham clearly hadn’t learned their lesson as they rode their luck to remain on level terms.
Another sweeping move carved West Ham open once again as Lukas Podolski’s first-time pass found Cazorla and the Spaniard’s shot was deflected narrowly wide.
But for all Arsenal’s superiority, it was West Ham who opened the scoring against the the run of play in the 21st minute.

Wigan 2, Everton 2
In Wigan, United Kingdom, former Wigan defender Leighton Baines struck a late penalty against his old club to earn Premier League highflyers Everton a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
Wigan were in front in the 10th minute when Arouna Kone netted from close range after sterling work beating off the Everton defence from Shaun Moloney as he charged into the box.
Kone was celebrating his third goal of the season but television replays showed Everton had been hard done by as the Ivory Coast international was clearly offside.

The Merseysiders were back on level terms seconds later when Nikica Jelavic headed Steven Pienaar’s shot-turned pass into the Latics’ net by the far post.
This was the Croatian striker’s 13th goal in 16 Premier League outings.
In a pulsating opening period Wigan regained the lead in the 23rd minute, with the pacy Kone once again playing a key part.
Getting the better of Everton defender Johnny Heitinga on the right he skilfully picked out Franco di Santo, the Argentine striker shooting past Tim Howard.
Di Santo went close to grabbing his second minutes later with a testing shot this time from the left which Howard did well to push away.

West Brom 3, QPR 2

In West Bromwich, United Kingdom, West Brom piled more pressure on QPR boss Mark Hughes with a 3-2 win that left the Londoners bottom of the Premier League and allowed the winners to celebrate their best home start to a top-flight season in almost a century.
West Brom are now fourth in the table, five points behind leaders Chelsea, while this defeat was Queens Park Rangers’ fifth in seven matches, leaving them on just two points.
James Morrison opened the scoring for the hosts in the fifth minute and midfielder Zoltan Gera made it 2-0 in the 22nd.

Adel Taarabt pulled one back for QPR in the 35th but Youssouf Mulumbu scored for the Baggies with five minutes remaining, before Esteban Granero added a consolation in the second minute of injury time.
Hughes was able to bring defenders Jose Bosingwa and Anton Ferdinand back into the line-up after injury, while Taarabt made his first start since the opening match of the season.
Ferdinand, the man caught up in the John Terry racism row, was booed by some Albion fans.
QPR were being pulled apart in the first half-hour and it was no surprise when Morrison got the better of Ferdinand to head in a Shane Long cross.
And it was Ferdinand’s slip that gifted an attempted clearance straight to Gera, who scored from 10 yards out.

Taarabt reminded the crowd of his technique and skill with a smart goal that gave QPR a lifeline.
On the edge of the penalty box, the Morocco midfielder brought the ball under control and volleyed it beyond goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Rangers captain Park Ji-Sung was cautioned at the end of the first half for a lunge at Gera.
The west London side emerged for the second half with much more purpose, forcing Albion boss Steve Clarke into replacing both his strikers to maintain their attacking threat.
Despite QPR threatening to equalise, the Black Country side sealed their victory when Mulumbu made it 3-1 following a quick exchange of passes, meaning Granero’s injury time strike counted for little more than a consolation goal.
West Brom’s fourth win on their ground is the Black Country side’s best start to a top flight season at home since 1919.

Swansea 2, Reading 2

In Swansea, Oct 6, Swansea staged a late fightback to deny Reading their first Premier League win of the season in a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Michael Laudrup’s side looked set for their fourth successive league defeat when goals from Pavel Pogrebnyak and Noel Hunt put the visitors 2-0 up before half-time.
But Spanish midfielder Michu gave Swansea a lifeline with 19 minutes remaining and Wayne Routledge ensured Reading’s winless run would extend to six matches when he equalised seven minutes later.
Swansea had made a bright start, creating several decent chances in the opening 20 minutes, with the best falling to striker Danny Graham who saw a header turned over the bar by Alex McCarthy.
Reading had shown little going forward, but took the lead in the 31st minute when Russian striker Pogrebnyak latched on to a through-ball from Jobi McAnuff and fired goalwards.

It should have been a routine save for Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm, but the Dutchman somehow let the ball sneak beyond him into the net.
Brian McDermott’s team struck again just before half-time when a McAnuff shot looped up off Angel Rangel and Hunt was on hand to lash the ball past Vorm.
Laudrup responded by sending on Luke Moore for Graham at the interval and the substitute made a big impact.
Moore troubled the Reading defence immediately and McCarthy was forced to save with his foot when the striker went through on goal.
McCarthy then did superbly to push Moore’s header against the post and also turned Ki Sung-Yeung’s deflected low shot onto the woodwork.

Reading were under seige now and Laudrup’s team got one back in the 71st minute when Michu powered in a diving header from a deflected Routledge cross.
McCarthy pulled off yet another great stop to keep Moore out, but Swansea were not to be denied and after Ki robbed Reading of possession, a counter-attack was finished off by Routledge’s leveller in the 78th minute.

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