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Monday, Oct. 3, 2011

City shrugs off Tevez row, routs Blackburn


LONDON — Manchester City moved on from the midweek turmoil of Carlos Tevez's apparent refusal to play with a resounding 4-0 victory at Blackburn in the Premier League on Saturday.

City remains joint top of the standings alongside crosstown rival Manchester United, which struggled to a 2-0 win over Norwich.

Adam Johnson, Mario Balotelli, Samir Nasri and Stefan Savic all scored second-half goals to ensure City kept pace with United, which welcomed Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez back from injury but needed late strikes by Anderson and Danny Welbeck to secure a club record 19th straight league win at Old Trafford.

The two Manchester clubs lead with 19 points from seven games, though United has the better goal difference. Newcastle went to third with 15 points after a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton stretched its unbeaten start to the season.

Liverpool won 2-0 at Everton to go to 13 points alongside Chelsea, which can return alone to third place with a victory at Bolton on Sunday.

In other matches Saturday, Aston Villa earned its first home victory of the season with a 2-0 result against Wigan and Nicklas Bendtner sparked Sunderland to a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Tevez was suspended for two weeks on Thursday over his apparent refusal to come off the bench during City's 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League the day before, with manager Roberto Mancini saying the Argentina striker would never play for the club again.

But even with Sergio Aguero sustaining what appeared to be a groin problem, City's offense never lagged as Johnson curled in the 56th-minute opener.

Italy striker Balotelli volleyed home from Nasri three minutes later and celebrated by showing support for Mancini with a hug of the Italian coach. Nasri scored the third in the 73rd before Savic netted his first goal for City near the close.

After making six changes, coach David Platt felt the performance showed the depth of City's squad after a difficult week.

"It was the result we wanted and that's what we prepared for from Thursday onwards when we returned to training after putting the Bayern game to bed," Platt said.

"One of the hardest things for us is picking a starting eleven. When we have everyone fit we are still sending top players into the stands. It's important that we don't lose the quality of performance and we haven't."

Reysol defeat Antlers


Kashima, Ibaraki Pref. — Kashiwa Reysol survived the dismissal of South Korean defender Park Dong Hyuk to get their title bid back on track with a gritty 1-0 win away to Kashima Antlers on Sunday in the J. League.

Masato Kudo broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark and the visitors, playing with 10 men for over 45 minutes, withstood a late onslaught to register their first ever league win at Kashima Stadium.

Kashiwa improved to 56 points and, with champions Nagoya Grampus (53) suffering a surprise 2-0 defeat at Shimizu S-Pulse, Nelsinho's men moved second, one point behind Gamba Osaka. Gamba beat struggling Urawa Reds 1-0 to maintain their slender lead at the top of the table with six games left.

South Korean striker Lee Keun Ho beat the offside trap and raced onto Yasuhito Endo's pass to stab the winner through the legs of Nobuhiro Kato in the 28th minute at Expo Stadium. The result heaps more pressure on Urawa boss Zeljko Petrovic, with Reds fourth-from-bottom and just two points above the relegation zone.

Vegalta Sendai (47), meanwhile, kept their slender championship hopes alive with a 2-1 win at home to Cerezo Osaka. Naoki Sugai scored what turned out to be the decider in the 40th minute, capping a miserable week for Cerezo following their elimination in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League.

Humbled 3-1 at home by relegation-threatened Omiya Ardija last week, Kashiwa made a lively start and Kudo gave it the breakthrough on 31 minutes, taking Leandro Domingues' pass on his left foot before letting fly with his right to give Kashima goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata no chance.

"This is a fantastic feeling," said the 21-year-old Kudo.

"We knew it would be a tough match and every player in the team wanted to make history (by winning here for the first time). We lost our last match to Omiya and couldn't afford to lose two in a row."

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