City move level with Chelsea, Falcao rescues United
Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday to move level with Premier League leaders Chelsea, while Radamel Falco earned Manchester United a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
City were missing Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic due to injury, but they secured an eighth consecutive win in all competitions thanks to David Silva’s second-half brace and a late Yaya Toure strike.
Victory left City level on 39 points with Chelsea, who remain top by virtue of a superior goal difference (+23 to +22) ahead of their trip to Stoke City on Monday.
“It was a very good win. A very good performance. I enjoyed the way the team worked the whole week — to work in a different way without strikers,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
United spurned a chance to close on Chelsea after dropping points for the first time in seven matches at Villa, who had Gabriel Agbonlahor sent off in the 65th minute for a foul on former team-mate Ashley Young.
The draw ended United’s run of six straight wins and left Louis van Gaal’s side seven points off the pace in third place, while West Ham United, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur all closed on them.
At the Etihad Stadium, Silva claimed his second goal in the 61st minute, neatly steering home at the near post from Aleksandar Kolarov’s left-wing centre.
James McArthur thought he had replied for Palace moments later when he headed Yannick Bolasie’s cross past Hart, but although Fernandinho appeared to have played him onside, the assistant referee’s flag went up.
Palace manager Neil Warnock called it “a disgraceful decision”.
Toure made the game safe for City in the 81st minute, collecting a square pass from Milner and slamming home left-footed at the near post.
Christian Benteke put Villa 1-0 up in the 18th minute at home against United by chesting down a deep free-kick, stepping inside Jonny Evans and curling a fine left-foot shot inside the left-hand post.
David de Gea produced a stunning save to tip a header from Benteke over the bar early in the second half, before Falcao met Young’s cross with a powerful 53rd-minute header to claim his first goal since October.
United’s record signing Angel di Maria made his return from a hamstring injury as a replacement for Robin van Persie, but despite Agbonlahor being shown a straight red card for catching Young, Villa held on.
Fourth-place West Ham are now just a point behind United after beating bottom club Leicester City 2-0 at Upton Park.
Andy Carroll seized on West Ham old boy Paul Konchesky’s disastrous back-pass to put the hosts ahead in the 24th minute and Stewart Downing made it 2-0 in the 56th minute with an stunning 25-yard effort.
Southampton are two points further back after ending a five-game losing streak by beating Everton 3-0 thanks to a Romelu Lukaku own goal and second-half efforts from Graziano Pelle and Maya Yoshida.
Tottenham leapfrogged Arsenal, who host Liverpool on Sunday, by beating Burnley 2-1.
Charlie Austin took his tally for the season to 11 goals with a hat-trick as Queens Park Rangers came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion, who scored through Joleon Lescott and Silvestre Varela.
The win took QPR out of the relegation zone, but Hull City remain in the bottom three after Jonjo Shelvey’s shot deflected in off Ki Sung-yueng to earn Swansea City a 1-0 victory at the KC Stadium.
Man City 3 Crystal Palace 0
West Ham 2 Leicester City 0
Tottenham 2 Burnley 1
Hull City 0 Swansea City 1
Aston Villa 1 Man United 1
QPR 3 West Brom 2
Southampton 3 Everton 0