25th February, 2012
Manchester City opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League with victory over Blackburn on Saturday as Chelsea beat Bolton to ease the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas.
With second-placed Manchester United not playing until Sunday’s trip to Norwich, City took full advantage of the opportunity to crank up the pressure on their cross-town rivals by taking all three points at Eastlands.Goals from Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and substitute Edin Dzeko duly sealed a 3-0 win for Roberto Mancini’s side, who extended their remarkable 100 percent record at home this season to 13 matches.
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Villas-Boas breathed a sigh of relief after watching his team down struggling Bolton 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.Second-half goals from David Luiz, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard gave Villas-Boas something to smile about after a difficult week which saw the Blues pushed to the brink of elimination from the Champions League.
The victory — Chelsea’s first in five league matches — saw Villas-Boas’s side move back into the Champions League qualification places, three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, who face Tottenham on Sunday.
“It was important to win after all the recent disappointments. We have been trying so hard and today we managed to do a great, great game,” Villas-Boas said.”We managed to find the efficiency in front of goal that we haven’t had in the last few games and we are back on track in the league.
After a poor first-half display, Chelsea’s nerves were settled moments after half-time when much-maligned Luiz shot the Blues ahead.The Brazilian international picked up a loose ball and took his time before rifling into the bottom corner past Adam Bogdan.Chelsea made the game safe on 61 minutes when Drogba headed in Lampard’s corner for 2-0. Lampard, reportedly fuming at his treatment by Villas-Boas recently, then completed the scoring on 79 minutes, his 150th league goal.
Caretaker Wolves manager Terry Connor saw his relegation-threatened side produce a stirring fightback from 2-0 down to grab a share of the points against high-flying Newcastle at St James Park.Wolves looked to be dead and buried at the interval after goals from Papiss Demba Cisse and Jonas Gutierrez saw the Magpies surge into a 2-0 lead.
But Matt Jarvis launched an improbable Houdini act on 50 minutes to make it 2-1 before Kevin Doyle levelled it in the 66th minute.The hard-earned point was enough to lift Wolves out of the relegation zone at the expense of Blackburn.
Connor said he had always believed in his team’s spirit despite trailing 2-0 at the break.”I know what the dressing room is like and I know how they react in adversity when things don’t go quite their way,” Connor said.”But I had a feeling they would react in the right manner, a positive manner, and they did that today.
Queens Park Rangers’ dismal run of form continued as west London neighbours Fulham completed a season double with a 1-0 win at Loftus Road.Fulham’s winner came courtesy of Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, the January transfer signing scoring the second goal of his Craven Cottage career on only his second appearance.
A miserable afternoon for Mark Hughes’ Rangers also saw Malian midfielder Samba Diakite sent off on his debut for a second yellow card after a clumsy lunge on Bryan Ruiz after 33 minutes.
West Bromwich Albion brought Sunderland’s recent run of good form to a shuddering halt after romping to a 4-0 win at the Hawthorns.Peter Odemwingie bagged a brace while James Morrison and Keith Andrews grabbed one each as the Baggies ran riot to leave Martin O’Neill’s side reflecting on their worst defeat of the season.”It was a poor day for us and I hope that we can learn something from it,” O’Neill said. “We were second best and we didn’t deserve anything from the game.”Elsewhere, bottom club Wigan battled to a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa at the DW Stadium.