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April 23, 2016

Saturday's action in Round 35 of the English Premier League saw eight total teams in action, with implications both at the top and the bottom of the table.

Manchester City showed their intention of securing a top-four spot with a big win over Stoke City, while Newcastle United bolstered their hopes of avoiding relegation after earning a point at Liverpool.

Read full recaps from all of Saturday's action below.  

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City easily defeated Stoke 4-0 in the English Premier League on Saturday to move five points clear of rival Manchester United in the fight for a Champions League spot.

The hosts struck twice in each half with Fernando grabbing the opener, followed by Sergio Aguero converting a penalty just before halftime.

Kelechi Iheanacho added two more after the interval.

City moved to third and is provisionally one point ahead of fourth-place Arsenal, which visits Sunderland on Sunday.

City hosts Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday and Manuel Pellegrini's selection clearly had this in mind, with Kevin De Bruyne on the bench and Vincent Kompany missing from the squad altogether.

Stoke was dealt a major blow before kick-off when it was confirmed Ibrahim Afellay suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in training on Friday, potentially ruling him out until 2017.=

City almost scored after six minutes when Aguero set up Iheanacho, making his fourth Premier League start, and the youngster curled a shot just wide.

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At the other end, Glenn Whelan tested Joe Hart with an audacious free kick.

Ironically, the visitors were having their best spell of the match when City opened the scoring in the 35th minute.

The Potters were weak at defending crosses against Liverpool last weekend and that was the case again as Fernando nipped ahead of Geoff Cameron at the near post and flicked his header into the far corner.

Further City pressure was rewarded when Ryan Shawcross hauled down Iheanacho after he had played a one-two with Yaya Toure.

Aguero's 43rd-minute penalty gave Shay Given no chance — in the week the goalkeeper turned 40 — finding the bottom corner for his 28th goal of the season.

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Given went off at the interval with Jakob Haugaard, 17 years the Irishman's junior, sent on for the second half.

Mato Joselu should have scored with a shot from 10 yards (meters) for Stoke but sent it over the bar before Mame Biram Diouf headed just wide.

As in the first half, a period of Stoke pressure ended with a City goal.

Pablo Zabaleta, making his 300th City appearance, got away down the right and cut the ball back for Iheanacho to tap home in the 64th.

The teenager was enjoying himself and 10 minutes later he ran onto substitute Wilfried Bony's pass and rounded Haugaard before slotting home.

Midtable Stoke conceded four goals for a third successive match and look set to finish a positive season on a low note.

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LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Rafa Benitez's relegation-threatened Newcastle secured a draw on the manager's return to Liverpool on Saturday, recovering from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the English Premier League.

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With three games remaining, Newcastle is a point from safety but 17th-place Norwich has a game in hand.

Trailing to goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana at the interval, Newcastle salvaged a valuable point thanks to strikes from Papiss Cisse and Jack Colback.

There was drama in the buildup, too, as Liverpool announced that defender Mamadou Sakho failed a drugs test after a Europa League game at Manchester United last month.

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BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) — Eden Hazard scored his first English Premier League goals of the season and Cesc Fabregas played a key role in Chelsea's 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.

Diego Costa found Fabregas, and the playmaker's through ball allowed Pedro to stroke home the opener in the fifth minute.

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Fabregas' flick round the corner carved space for fit-again Hazard, and he drilled home from 20 yards (meters).

Tommy Elphick got one back for the Cherries, the bounce from his header into the ground eluding Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and making it to 2-1.

Fabregas' through ball let Willian dink the ball over Artur Boruc for Chelsea's third. The Spaniard's injury-time lay-off allowed Nemanja Matic to tee up Hazard's second goal.

Chelsea snapped a two-game EPL losing streak and is ninth with 47 points, while Bournemouth has 41.

Defending champion Chelsea can still have a major impact on the title outcome. It next hosts second-place Spurs on May 2, with current league leader Leicester coming to Stamford Bridge for its last game of the season on May 15.

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Southampton piled more misery on relegated Aston Villa by cruising to a 4-2 win in a toxic atmosphere at Villa Park on Saturday.

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Villa, falling out of the English Premier League for the first time since 1987, was booed by its own fans on entering the pitch, and jeered after just three minutes because of ongoing woeful defending. Half an hour in, fans turned protest banners into paper planes to throw at the pitch.

Villa's 10th straight loss meant it was on the verge of equaling the club's worst losing streak of 11 in 1962-63.

For Southampton, still an outside chance of securing a European spot, Shane Long and Dusan Tadic scored in the first half, Tadic got his second after the break, and Sadio Mane finished off in injury time.

Ashley Westwood's pair for Villa made the scoreline less embarrassing.

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