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Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011

City hammers United to stake claim for title


LONDON — Manchester City underlined its reputation as genuine title contenders by routing Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford to move five points clear of its fierce rival at the top of the Premier League on Sunday.

News photo
One big party: City's Sergio Aguero jumps on the back of goalscorer Mario Balotelli during their 6-1 rout of rival Manchester United on Sunday at Old Trafford. AP PHOTO

Mario Balotelli scored either side of United defender Jonny Evans' sending-off in the 47th minute before City added further goals through Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko (two) and David Silva, inflicting United's heaviest league defeat at Old Trafford since 1955.

City's day got even better when third-place Chelsea lost 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers after having two players — Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba — sent off in a fiery west London derby.

"I'm satisfied because we beat United away and I don't think there are a lot of teams that could win here," said City manager Roberto Mancini, whose unbeaten team ended its rival's 37-match unbeaten run at home in all competitions.

"I think this game is important because we beat them at Old Trafford but not for the 6-1."

Darren Fletcher scored a consolation for United, which fell apart after Evans' straight red card for a professional foul on Balotelli.

It was the first time United conceded six goals at home in the league in 81 years.

"It's the worst result in my history, ever," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I can't believe the scoreline."

Heidar Helguson scored QPR's winner from the penalty spot after being tugged by David Luiz in the area, one of a host of indiscretions committed by Chelsea's players in an ill-disciplined display.

Chelsea also had seven players yellow-carded by referee Chris Foy as the visitors' temperament deserted them in a hostile atmosphere at Loftus Road.

"I'm very disappointed with Chris' performance," Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said. "Chris and his team (of officials) managed to play an emotional game and they conceded to the crowd and committed tremendous mistakes."

Chelsea is a point behind United after nine games.

In the day's other games, substitute Robin van Persie's brace helped Arsenal beat Stoke 3-1 to move up to seventh, Everton needed late goals by Louis Saha and Jack Rodwell to defeat Fulham by the same score and Rafael van der Vaart netted twice as Tottenham beat Blackburn 2-1 to climb to fifth.

After weathering an early barrage by United, City took the lead in the 22nd when Balotelli — playing 24 hours after escaping unhurt when part of his home caught fire when a firework went off — coolly sidefooted home from just inside the box.

The Italian was then at the center of the game's key moment, latching onto Aguero's through-ball only to be pulled back by Evans on the edge of the area.

Referee Mark Clattenburg had no choice but to send off the Northern Ireland center back and City took full advantage.

"I think that after the sending-off, it was easier," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "But I think we were playing very well (before)."

Milner, who set up Balotelli for the first goal, did the same on the hour mark to allow the striker to volley in from two meters out.

Aguero finished off a similar flowing move to make it 3-0 and even though Fletcher narrowed the deficit with a sweet, curling effort in the 81st, City maintained its attacking philosophy.

"We just kept attacking. They were attacking three versus two. It was crazy football," Ferguson said.

City scored its last three goals in the space of four minutes as the home defense went missing, with Dzeko — on as a substitute for Balotelli — restoring the three-goal margin by bundling in following Lescott's cut-back.

Silva ran clear to slot home the fifth and the Spain playmaker set up Dzeko for the sixth with a marvelous volleyed through-ball.

Van Persie started on the bench for Arsenal against Stoke but turned the game on its head after coming on as a substitute in the 66th minute with the score at 1-1.

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