Manchester City kept up the pressure on Premier League leaders Liverpool with a 4-1 win at home to Southampton in yesterday’s early kick-of match.
Victory saw Man City close to within a point of Liverpool with a game in hand and leapfrog Chelsea into second place.
Chelsea, who have also played one game more than City, were to go a point clear at the top with a win against Stoke at Stamford Bridge later yesterday.
Liverpool are scheduled to play against West Ham today at the Boleyn Ground in London.
The opening four goals at Eastlands all came in the first half with City’s Yaya Toure and Saints’ Rickie Lambert scoring from the penalty spot, before Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko scored in stoppage time to make it 3-1 to Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
City substitute Stevan Jovetic completed the scoring nine minutes from time.
Toure gave City a third-minute advantage from the penalty spot after Jose Fonte brought down Dzeko.
Worse followed for Southampton when their England striker Jay Rodriguez, with national manager Roy Hodgson watching from the stands, landed badly after jumping to control the ball and clutched his knee in agony before being carried off on a stretcher.
Rodriguez’s injury placed a huge question mark over whether he would be fit in time to be included in Hodgson’s squad for this year’s World Cup tournament in Brazil, which is to start in June.
Despite losing Rodriguez, Southampton equalized when they too scored a penalty, in the 37th minute, when Lambert, another of the south coast side’s England forwards, struck from the spot after Jack Cork went down between Toure and Pablo Zabaleta.
Two City goals in first-half stoppage time put the result beyond doubt.
Nasri rounded off a neat passing move, although Southampton were convinced David Silva, who played in the French midfielder, was offside when he received the ball. However, referee Chris Foy let the goal stand.
Minutes later City were 3-1 ahead when Dzeko headed in an Aleksandar Kolarov cross that was missed by Saints goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Jovetic made it 4-1 in the 81st minute when — after City’s Alvaro Negredo and Gazzaniga, in for the injured Artur Boruc, had missed Jesus Navas’s low centering kick — he tapped in from close range.
Yesterday’s other matches was to be played between Manchester United, buoyed by their midweek Champions League draw with Bayern Munich, and struggling Newcastle, while bottom of the table Fulham were to travel to Aston Villa.
Everton and Arsenal, fifth and fourth respectively before the weekend, are to clash at Goodison Park today.