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Monday, Feb. 27, 2012

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Work for it: Blackburn's Ruben Rochina (front) and Manchester City's Aleksandar Kolarov vie for the ball during their match on Saturday. City won 3-0. AP

No problems for City in routine victory over Blackburn

AP, Kyodo

LONDON — Manchester City tightened its grip on top spot in the English Premier League on Saturday by registering a 13th straight home victory, easing past Blackburn 3-0 on a day Chelsea ended its lean streak to relieve some of the the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas.

City barely broke into a sweat at fortress Etihad Stadium to move provisionally five points clear of Manchester United, with Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko scoring in a routine victory.

England midfielder Frank Lampard scored one goal and set up another to inspire Chelsea to a 3-0 win over Bolton, ending the team's miserable run of five straight winless games to lift it above Arsenal and provisional fourth place. Ryo Miyaichi, on loan from Arsenal, made his first league start for Bolton in the loss.

City's sensational home form is allowing the side to zero in on a first English title since 1968. Not since Newcastle in 1996 has a team won as many successive home league games from the start of a season.

"People say being leader you have the pressure from those behind but I think it is the opposite," City captain Vincent Kompany said.

At the end of a week in which Carlos Tevez returned to training with City after three months of unauthorized leave, his rival strikers all scored to prove that the Argentina international will have his work cut out regaining his starting place.

Balotelli opened the scoring after 30 minutes before Aguero in the 52nd and Dzeko in the 81st added further goals against Blackburn, which is third from bottom.

"We seem to have found our form again," Kompany said. "There's no such thing as an easy game and for us to win the league we've got to do the same, week in week out."

Lampard completed Chelsea's easy win with a late volley to become the first player to score at least 10 Premier League goals in nine successive seasons.

He was one of three senior players, along with Ashley Cole and Michael Essien, recalled after being dropped for the 3-1 loss to Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday as Villas-Boas relied on the old guard in his hour of need.

"It was important to win after all the recent disappointments," said Villas-Boas, whose job may have been untenable had Chelsea lost to a team second from bottom. "We have been trying so hard and today we managed to (have) a great, great game."

Brazil center back David Luiz and Cote d'Ivoire striker Didier Drogba, who went off injured late on, scored goals for Chelsea following a scoreless first-half

"It takes a bit of weight off our shoulders to get back to winning ways," said Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.

Terry Connor's first match in temporary charge of Wolverhampton Wanderers started disastrously with Papiss Demba Cisse and Jonas Gutierrez putting Newcastle 2-0 ahead after 18 minutes of their match.

However, Matt Jarvis reduced Wolves' deficit at the start of the second half and Kevin Doyle snatched the equalizer in the 66th, denting sixth-place Newcastle's hopes of a finish in the Champions League spots and lifting Wolves out of the bottom three.

"All credit to the lads. They came out in the second half, did the same things and got their reward in the end," said Connor, who will be in charge until the end of the season.

Queens Park Rangers slipped to fourth from bottom after losing 1-0 at home to Fulham.

Sunderland, rejuvenated since Martin O'Neill's arrival as manager in December, was brought back down to earth with a 4-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion. Wigan stays last after a 0-0 draw at home to Aston Villa.

Japan striker Tadanari Lee put in his first 90 minutes in the second-tier Championship as Southampton cruised to a 3-0 win at Watford.

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