MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City smashed through the 100-goal barrier in the Premier League with a 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Wednesday that moved the team two points clear with a game left and within touching distance of a second title in three years. . City turned a match gripped with tension into a procession with four goals in the final 26 minutes, with Edin Dzekos double ending Villas stubborn resistance and Yaya Toures spectacular solo goal completing the scoring in injury time. A draw at home to West Ham on Sunday will be enough for City to settle a thrilling title race, with only Liverpool capable of stopping them. Chelsea, in third place, has been knocked out of contention. If City does go on to capture the championship, it will have done so in style under attack-minded coach Manuel Pellegrini -- just as was desired by the clubs Abu Dhabi owners. "In the way we play, I am very happy to win the title this way," said Pellegrini, speaking as if the Premier League trophy was already in Citys hands. "There are different ways to win titles -- I choose this one with attractive football ... Maybe you can win titles other ways. For me, the esthetic part is very important." City has been most pundits favourite the whole season but the team is doing it the hard way -- just like in 2012 when it won the title with two injury-time goals in its final match. Pellegrinis side has been top for just 11 days this season - compared to 59 for Liverpool, 64 for third-place Chelsea and 128 for fourth-place Arsenal. But City has hit form just as Liverpool has started to blunder, dropping five points in its last two games. City, by contrast, has won its last four matches and has a superior goal difference of 13 to Liverpool. Also Wednesday, Sunderland beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 to guarantee another season in the Premier League and virtually relegate Norwich, which is three points behind West Brom but with a much inferior goal difference. There was a party atmosphere inside Etihad Stadium as City fans celebrated Toures brilliant goal, a powerful run through Villas defence from inside his own half. For the first 63 minutes, however, it had been very different. Villas packed defence had held firm under constant pressure and it was looking like one of those nights for City. Pellegrini remained calm on the touchline, though, and the hosts didnt abandon their passing philosophy, eventually making the breakthrough in the 64th when full back Pablo Zabaleta -- on yet another raid down the right -- crossed for Dzeko to steer home from close range. The goal was greeted by an outpouring of relief by the home fans but Dzeko -- and Zabaleta for that matter -- werent finished. From another teasing centre by Zabaleta, Samir Nasris effort was saved by goalkeeper Brad Guzan but the ball landed at the feet of Dzeko, who dribbled the ball into the corner in the 72nd for his fifth goal in three games. Villa started to push forward and that played into Citys hands. Toure cut the ball back for substitute Stevan Jovetic to curl a low shot into the corner from the edge of the area in the 89th, before the Ivory Coast midfielder capped the win with an emphatic fourth, his 20th of the campaign. "An amazing amount of goals," Pellegrini said, who hailed Toure as "the absolute complete midfielder." Chelseas Frank Lampard is the only other central midfielder to score 20 or more goals in the Premier League era, in the 2009-10 season. A month ago, Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said it would be a "miracle" if his team stayed up but thats exactly what it has done after first-half goals by Jack Colback and Fabio Borini against West Brom. Sunderland has picked up 13 points from its last five matches -- including wins over Chelsea and Manchester United and a draw at City. "I dont know if you will see something similar ever again," said Poyet, whose team is only the second since the Premier League started in 1992 to be last at Christmas and stay up. Despite the loss, West Brom is effectively safe as it is three points clear of Norwich but with a goal difference 17 better ahead of Sundays final round of the season. . They have homered once every 27.3 at bats, which just happens to be the third best mark in the American League, albeit just 10 games into the season. . The Oilers jumped into the free agent market early by signing defencemen Keith Aulie (six-foot-six, 228 pounds) and Mark Fayne (6-3, 210 pounds) and left-winger Benoit Pouliot (6-3, 197-pounds). Two days earlier MacTavish traded lightweight forward Sam Gagner to Tampa Bay for 6-3, 203-pound right winger Ted Purcell.ROME -- Mario Balotelli has expressed astonishment at the reaction to an argument he had with some Italian football pundits after a game on Friday. Following AC Milans 2-0 loss to Roma, Balotelli had a tense exchange with the Sky Italia TV studio hosts. Balotelli said: "When Milan wins Mario is great, when it loses Mario is bad." Told by one studio host that he doesnt move enough on the pitch, Balotelli responded: "You dont know anything about football. Trust me." His comments provoked plenty of reaction both supportive and critical, and Balotelli responded on Twitter around 4 a.m. local time on Saturday morning, saying in Italian: "Mamma mia I divide Italy in 2! Wow! While nearly everyone abroad is united with me!" Then he added in English: "What a strange game." Balotelli, whose career had been littered with controversies and clashes with both coaches and teammates, was largely ineffective against Roma and he was substituted in the 69th minute. As Balotelli walked off, he appeared to question coach Clarence Seedorfs decision to remove him. "I didnt understand my substitution," Balotelli said in the interview. Told that he doesnt criticize himsself enough, Balotelli said "Im a very normal player. . Its you who says Im a standout." Balotelli is having a strong season and set a personal record last week with his 14th goal of the campaign. "I chose to take off Balotelli, but when he came off he didnt say anything special to me," Seedorf said. "We shouldnt always analyze every detail, when there is something negative to say about Balo, you are always ready. There are things said and done in the heat of the moment, but then its talked about and resolved. "Hes coming off the back of many positive weeks, both with goals and with his behaviour." Balotelli has a history of being in the headlines as much for his antics off the pitch as his talent on it. He made light of his troubles in 2011 when he was with Manchester City by unveiling a T-shirt with the slogan "Why Always Me?" during a 6-1 rout of Manchester United in a Premier League derby. That came after reports that a fire had broken out at his house when fireworks were let off in his bathroom. Balotelli escaped punishment earlier in 2011 after throwing a dart at a City youth-team player. No one was hurt in the incident. ' ' '
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09 déc. 2019
gripped with tension
gripped with tension