Manchester City routs Aston Villa with late burst, nears EPL title
MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Manchester City scored four goals in the final 26 minutes to beat Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday, moving the team two points clear in the Premier League and realistically needing only a draw from its last match to win the title.
City made it 100 goals for the campaign as Edin Dzeko netted two close-range finishes in the 64th and 72nd minutes before Stevan Jovetic added a third in the 89th and Yaya Toure rounded the victory off with a brilliant solo run and finish in injury time.
City, which jumped above Liverpool, is a strong favorite for a second championship in three years as it hosts West Ham in its final game on Sunday. A point should be enough because its goal difference is 13 better than Liverpool's.
Also Wednesday, Sunderland beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 to guarantee another season in the Premier League and virtually relegate Norwich.
Five dropped points in Liverpool's last two games had given City the initiative in an oscillating title race, and home matches against Villa and West Ham were widely viewed as ideal fixtures to end the season.
This is a campaign where nothing can be taken for granted, though, and City had to be patient before breaking down Villa's resistance and reaching the 100-goal milestone.
With the crowd perhaps over-eager for City to get the ball forward, the home side lacked composure in a first half that it dominated in terms of possession. However, it couldn't find a way through a packed Villa defense that often contained six men in a line across the edge of the area.
Toure had a shot deflected just wide before Samir Nasri curled an effort over the crossbar and then somehow contrived to volley a cross from Pablo Zabaleta wide from just six meters out in first-half injury time. It looked like being one of those nights for City.
However, the runs of Zabaleta down the right had been a constant menace for Villa and when he stormed forward again in the 64th minute, he was picked out by David Silva and the Argentine's cross was steered in by Dzeko for his fourth goal in three games.
The goal was greeted by an outpouring of relief by the home fans at the Etihad but Dzeko - and Zabaleta for that matter - weren't finished. From another teasing center by Zabaleta, Nasri's effort was saved by goalkeeper Brad Guzan but the ball landed at the feet of Dzeko, who dribbled the ball into the corner.
Villa started to push forward and that played into City's hands.
Toure cut the ball back for substitute Jovetic to curl a low shot into the corner from the edge of the area, before embarking on a surging run from inside his own half to sprint clear of Villa's defenders and deliver an emphatic finish for his 20th goal of the campaign.
It is only the 11th day of the season that City has led the standings.
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