Eriksson on a high as City top the table

Manchester City edged defending champions Manchester United 1-0 on Sunday, giving Sven-Goran Eriksson his third straight shut-out in three matches as a Premier League manager and a two-point lead at the top of the standings.

Brazilian midfielder Geovanni, one of Eriksson’s eight pre-season signings, scored the winning goal in the 31st minute at the City of Manchester Stadium.

The result means that Eriksson, a former England coach, has a maximum nine points from three matches on his return to club soccer while United are in trouble with only two points after Alex Ferguson’s worst start in 15 years.

”We won the game and three wins is very good and I hope we can go on like this,” said Eriksson, whose team is two points ahead of Chelsea, who drew 1-1 at Liverpool.

”It’s good to have such a good start when you have so many new players and the confidence goes higher and higher.”

Ferguson praised his team for creating scoring chances but blamed his forwards for wasting them.

”We had an awful lot of chances. We played some fantastic football at times but it wasn’t our day,” he said. ”We were just wasteful. I don’t think you can even say we were unlucky because we had so many opportunities to win it ourselves. It was our own fault.”

In Sunday’s other game, Blackburn and Arsenal drew 1-1.

Despite playing without the injured Wayne Rooney and suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, United controlled the first 30 minutes and could have been two goals ahead before Geovanni scored for City.

When Carlos Tevez and Paul Scholes opened up the City defence in the fourth minute, Nani got clear but his shot was blocked at the foot of the near post by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, son of United great Peter Schmeichel.

The City goalkeeper also saved again from Nani, and Patrice Evra was tackled as he was about to shoot with only Schmeichel to beat.

”It’s fantastic. But we were lucky,” Eriksson said. ”If the game were based on possession of the ball or shots on target we would have lost. But it’s goals that count.”

After 30 minutes of United pressure, City broke out to take the lead.

The United midfielders, who included Owen Hargreaves making his competitive debut, gave Geovanni far too much room and the Brazilian sent a 25m shot that took a deflection off United defender Nemanja Vidic and swerved around goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar.

United almost levelled in the 47th when Vidic met a corner from Ryan Giggs, but his powerful header hit the crossbar.

The City defence held firm, however, with Micah Richards stopping the flow of chances with his well-timed tackles and clearances.

”I’m disappointed with the result but I can’t fault the performance. It was outstanding,” Ferguson said. ”We completely dominated the football match. When it came down to chances we should have sewn the game up.”

Tevez twice went close, however, failing to connect properly with a low cross from Giggs and then shooting wide of the near post. The Argentina striker almost levelled the game in the final minute when a corner flew across goal and he headed wide of the far post.

Robin van Persie gave Arsenal an 18th-minute lead at Ewood Park after Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel had failed to hold a shot from Eduardo da Silva. But Rovers equalised in the 72nd when Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann didn’t reach David Dunn’s looping shot, which floated over his head.

Rovers finished with 10 men after defender Ryan Nelsen was sent off for two yellow cards six minutes from the end.

At Anfield, Fernando Torres collected a slick through ball from Steven Gerrard and burst past Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim before sliding it inside the far post.

The Blues were gifted a 62nd-minute equaliser by referee Rob Styles, however. Chelsea forward Florent Malouda jumped into Steve Finnan as a cross came over from the right and Styles ruled that the Liverpool defender was guilty of the foul.

Frank Lampard scored from the penalty spot.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said the referee got his decision wrong and should have sent off Malouda for a foul on Finnan.

”I think it was a mistake. It’s unbelievable. How can you take this decision?” Benitez asked. ”A team that’s working so hard, how can you change a game like that? The game was under control but this kind of decision is something you cannot respect.”

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho wasn’t sure his team was lucky to get the penalty.

”I don’t know. So many times you are unfortunate, especially in this stadium, with referee decisions,” he said. ”It was a tough game for referees.”

He said he was happy with a point at Anfield, bearing in mind Manchester United and Arsenal also failed to win.

”I think it’s a positive result for us, especially as we were losing,” Mourinho said. ”I know Manchester United lost, I know Arsenal drew. I knew that if I get a point here it’s a point we get and it’s two points that Liverpool don’t get.” — Sapa-AP

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