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Monday, Dec. 5, 2011

League-leading City nets five goals in rout


LONDON — Unbeaten leader Manchester City turned on the attacking style to maintain its stunning start to the season, thrashing Norwich 5-1 as the Premier League's title-chasers went goal crazy on Saturday.

News photo
Getting offensive: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring against Norwich on Saturday at Etihad Stadium. City won 5-1. AP

While second-place Manchester United was content with a 1-0 win at Aston Villa, Tottenham and Chelsea routed Bolton and Newcastle, respectively, 3-0 and Arsenal went one better, overwhelming Wigan 4-0 to send the northwest team back to the bottom of the table.

City continues to lead the way, extending its undefeated run to 14 matches thanks to goals by Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson.

In winning 12 of those games, City has racked up 48 goals as the big-spending club seeks to capture its first title since 1968.

City assistant coach David Platt said his team was rewarded for its patience.

"It was just a matter of moving the ball . . . it was going to open up by a little bit of brilliance," Platt said. "The goals are irrelevant as long as we get the points and keep getting them."

Norwich had come to defend in the hope that they could create something on the break and it came close to making that work in the early stages.

Phil Jones' first goal for United, in the 20th minute, kept the champions five points adrift of City and two ahead of Tottenham, which has a game in hand over all its title rivals.

A left ankle injury sustained by Javier Hernandez put a dampener on United's fourth 1-0 victory in its last five league games. The Mexico striker was carried off on a stretcher in the 12th minute at Villa Park and could be out for four weeks with ligament damage, according to manager Alex Ferguson.

Ayegbeni Yakubu scored four goals as Blackburn won its first Premier League game in nine matches, beating Swansea 4-2 to climb off the bottom of the table and provide some relief for its under-pressure manager Steve Kean.

West Bromwich Albion scored late to hold Queen Park Rangers to a 1-1 draw in the other match.

Aguero prodded in his 11th goal in 13 league starts to set the ball rolling in the 32nd minute at the Etihad Stadium, where City has scored a total of 24 goals in seven straight wins this campaign.

Nasri made it 2-0 six minutes after the break with a free kick before mid-table Norwich collapsed in the last quarter. Toure curled home a shot from the edge of the area in the 68th, Balotelli headed in from close range and Johnson placed a sidefooted finish in from 15 meters to complete the rout.

Tottenham extended its unbeaten run to 11 matches by claiming a sixth successive league win, taking full advantage of Gary Cahill's straight red card in the 17th minute for a foul on Scott Parker to overwhelm Bolton at White Hart Lane.

Gareth Bale had already put Spurs ahead by then, tapping home Luka Modric's corner in the sixth minute before removing his boot in front of the visiting fans as a tribute to former Wales manager and Bolton player Gary Speed, who died on Sunday.

All seven matches in the Premier League were preceded with a minute's applause for Speed, a popular figure who made 535 appearances in England's top division.

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