Chelsea increased their lead at the top of the English Premier League table with a 1-0 win at Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, while Manchester United added to Manchester City’s woes in a come-from-behind 4-2 derby victory at Old Trafford.
Cesc Fabregas’s late goal sealed Chelsea’s victory at Loftus Road as Jose Mourinho’s side moved seven points clear of second-placed Arsenal with seven games remaining.
However, there was no shortage of goals in Manchester, where Sergio Aguero gave defending champions City the lead, only for United to hit back through Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling.
Aguero scored his and City’s second — his 100th goal for the club — in the 89th minute, but it was too little too late to ease the pressure on under-fire manager Manuel Pellegrini.
This result saw third-placed United move four points in front of fourth-placed City as they strengthened their bid for direct entry into next season’s UEFA Champions League.
“It’s three points. We are four points ahead of fourth in the table and I am very happy for the fans,” United manager Louis van Gaal said.
“We started very badly. It was not Manchester United, we were very nervous. I don’t know why, but when we scored the goal, from that moment we had more confidence,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pellegrini appeared to be bemused by his side’s slump despite having gone ahead.
“We started very well and in the first 20 minutes we could have controlled the game,” he said. “After the second goal we lost the way we were playing and United scored more goals. It is not just one problem, the same team played well for 20 minutes. Maybe it is a lack of class at this moment. I don’t know.”
In west London, Chelsea did not break down a stubborn QPR defense until the 88th minute when Fabregas scored with their only on-target shot of the match in a move initiated by a poor clearance from home goalkeeper Robert Green.
Victory left Chelsea seven points in front of second-placed Arsenal, with QPR remaining in the relegation zone.
“It is one step closer [to the title],” Chelsea manager Mourinho said. “Our situation is good. Pure mathematics. We need 11 points.”
There was a nasty edge to the closing minutes when Chelsea players were pelted with a variety of objects thrown at them from the stands after Fabregas scored.
“We don’t want objects thrown on the pitch. These rivalries can sometimes go too far,” QPR manager Chris Ramsey said.
At Old Trafford, United ended a run of four straight derby defeats with their sixth successive league win against all opponents.
Prior to kick-off, Pellegrini accused his side of throwing their season “into the garbage” in recent months following the club’s elimination from both the FA Cup and the Champions League.
However, it was City who went ahead when Aguero tapped in from close range in the eighth minute.
City’s advantage lasted just six minutes, Young finishing from Ander Herrera’s cross. The hosts were 2-1 in front come the 27th minute when Fellaini headed in Young’s assist.
Mata added a third goal midway through the second half when, played in by Wayne Rooney, he slotted the ball between the legs of England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
More poor City defending then ensured United defender Smalling was left completely unmarked to head in a Rooney free-kick in the 73rd minute.
The result left United eight points behind Chelsea, with City 12 points adrift of the leaders.
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