Manchester City cut Manchester United’s Premier League lead to four points by beating Fulham 2-0 on Saturday thanks to a brace of goals from Spanish midfielder David Silva.
United were not in action until yesterday when they were due to visit Tottenham Hotspur and defending champions City took advantage to breathe fresh impetus into their title defense.
Silva broke the deadlock after just 96 seconds at the Etihad Stadium, slamming home from close range after Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer parried a long-range shot from Edin Dzeko.
Steve Sidwell hit the post for the visitors in the 31st minute and City lost Pablo Zabaleta to injury before Silva added a second with 21 minutes left, gathering a Carlos Tevez flick and beating Schwarzer with a dinked finish.
“All we can do is win our games,” City assistant manager David Platt said. “We have got 15 left and Man United have got 16 left, and I am sure both teams will drop points between now and the end of the season. We have to make sure we keep getting victories so if United do slip up, we are in a position to take advantage of that.”
Meanwhile, Luis Suarez’s burgeoning partnership with new Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge caught the eye as the Reds routed Norwich City 5-0 at Anfield to close to within three points of the European places.
Jordan Henderson broke the deadlock with a 26th-minute half-volley, before home debutant Sturridge’s clever dummy freed Suarez to beat Mark Bunn for his seventh goal in three games against the Canaries.
Sturridge tapped in his third goal in three games for his new club in the 59th minute, with Steven Gerrard getting in on the act from long range, before Norwich’s Ryan Bennett put through his own goal in the 74th minute.
“We have played well for most of the season, but Daniel coming in adds that extra threat,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. “He has pace and power, and he has got good touch and good skills.”
Aston Villa climbed out of the relegation zone despite letting a two-goal lead slip in a 2-2 draw at local rivals West Bromwich Albion.
Fine goals from Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor put Paul Lambert’s men 2-0 ahead at the break, but Chris Brunt replied early in the second half, before Peter Odemwingie lashed home an 83rd-minute equalizer.
Villa’s draw meant Reading remained in the relegation zone despite seeing Adam Le Fondre score twice in six minutes as they came from behind once again to win 2-1 at Newcastle United.
Yohan Cabaye’s picture-perfect free-kick put Newcastle in front 10 minutes prior to the interval, but Le Fondre equalized 65 seconds after coming on as a 70th-minute substitute and then curled in a 77th-minute winner.
“The win can be a massive springboard for us,” Le Fondre said. “We’ve done well since Boxing Day and now we’ve transformed it into a win away from home.”
It was Reading’s second improbable comeback in two games following their dramatic 3-2 success over West Brom the previous weekend and it meant Newcastle remain two points above the bottom three.
Joe Cole scored the first goal of his second spell at West Ham United to prevent former manager Harry Redknapp enjoying a victory on his return to Upton Park with Queens Park Rangers.
New signing Loic Remy marked his QPR debut with a coolly taken 14th-minute goal, but Cole gave West Ham a share of the spoils when he converted from close range in the 68th minute after Julio Cesar saved from Carlton Cole.
Sunderland continued their recent revival by coming back from a goal down to win 3-2 at Wigan Athletic, who slipped into the drop zone.
David Vaughan’s own-goal gave Wigan a fourth-minute lead, but the visitors stormed back through a Craig Gardner penalty and a Steven Fletcher brace, before on-loan Manchester United forward Angelo Henriquez hit back for Wigan.
Swansea City warmed up for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final with Chelsea by beating Stoke City 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium.
Teenage defender Ben Davies, 19, scored his first senior goal to open the scoring early in the second half, with Jonathan de Guzman adding a classy brace, before Michael Owen replied for Stoke to claim his 150th Premier League goal.