Manchester City climbed to third in the Premier League after thumping Sunderland 5-0 on Sunday with a lively attacking display in which the goals came from five different players.
City scored twice in the first 15 minutes, Adam Johnson’s opener followed quickly by a Carlos Tevez penalty awarded when the striker was brought down by Phil Bardsley.
David Silva’s 63rd-minute goal opened the floodgates as Patrick Vieira came off the bench to score with his first touch and Yaya Toure got his name on the scoresheet with a neat finish in the 73rd.
City manager Roberto Mancini had opted for an unfamiliar formation with two strikers, bringing back Mario Balotelli to partner Tevez after dropping the temperamental Italian last month following a second red card of the season.
The move paid off with City, sometimes accused by their fans of playing too defensively, looking sharp in a win that lifted them above Chelsea into third place and strengthened their grip on the Champions League spots which are Mancini’s priority.
Watching the match at Eastlands was Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, whose team went seven points clear at the top on Saturday after a 4-2 comeback win at West Ham United. Second-placed Arsenal were held 0-0 by Blackburn Rovers.
City are 10 points behind their neighbours, who have 66 points from 31 games, and while that may be too far behind to mount a realistic title challenge they do stand in the way of United’s bid for a treble as the sides meet in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Chelsea are fourth on 55 points and Arsenal have 59, with both having played one game fewer than the Manchester teams.
Earlier in the day, Bobby Zamora struck twice to help Fulham beat Blackpool 3-0, lifting his team closer to safety and plunging the visitors deeper into relegation trouble. – Reuters