Jordan Bowery

Manchester City 4-0 Aston Villa: Dzeko double edges City towards title (video)

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Manchester City all but sealed the Premier League title by beating Aston Villa 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Two second half goals from Edin Dzeko — the big Bosnian striker now has five goals in his last three games — and late goals from Stevan Jovetic and Yaya Toure sealed a dominant win for the home side who now sit two points ahead of second-placed Liverpool going into the final game of the season.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side know all they need is a draw against West Ham on Sunday, as their superior goal difference over Liverpool will see the Citizens lift their second PL crown in the last three seasons.

They dominated from start to finish against a stubborn Villa side but despite going in 0-0 at the interval, City dug in to seal a crucial win in the pouring rain. City have now racked up 100 goals in the PL and sit at the top of the standings for just the eleventh day throughout the entire season. After a supreme display, Pellegrini’s side have one hand on the 2013-14 PL trophy.

MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Early on City pushed to go ahead as Aleksandar Kolarov bombed on down the left but his cross was hacked away by Villa’s defense. Soon after Vincent Kompany rose to try and head home a corner kick but USMNT ‘keeper Brad Guzan did just enough to put him off as City’s skipper headed wide. Guzan came up big again soon after, as James Milner’s reverse ball found Pablo Zabaleta and he cut the ball back to Yaya Toure who slotted the ball goalwards but Guzan denied City’s Ivorian powerhouse with a reaction stop. City continued to prod and probe but Villa’s defense held firm and made it extremely difficult for the Citizens to engineer clear-cut opportunities early on.

As the first half came to a close City still couldn’t break down a stubborn Villa side who showed no sign of attacking intent (apart from a brief chance at the back post for Jordan Bowery and a Andreas Weimann breakaway) in the pouring rain at the Etihad Stadium. Zabaleta was getting free down the right-hand side and played in David Silva before the break but the Spaniard saw his effort blocked. In first half stoppage time City again worked the ball to the right where James Milner delivered a perfect ball into the six-yard box but Samir Nasri directed his effort wide of the near post. After 45 minutes the Citizens were on course to drop two points and let Liverpool back into the title race.

City started the second half the same way they started the first: all-out attack. A long ball over the top almost found Dzeko but the Bosnian striker couldn’t control the ball on the slippery surface. City continued to try and get in behind Villa’s five-man defense and stayed patient in the pouring rain in Manchester.

That persistent finally paid off in the 64th minute, as Silva released Zabaleta down the right and the Argentine full back squared the ball across to Dzeko who sent the home fans wild after slotting past Guzan. Relief was rife around the Etihad. The floodgates then opened for City as a near identical strike put them 2-0 up in the 71st minute. Silva was again given time on the edge of the box to thread a ball to Zabaleta who pulled it back for Nasri to slot it into the bottom corner, however Guzan saved well but the rebound found Dzeko who tapped home his and City’s second.

Toure tried his luck from a free kick which flew wide and the final 20 minutes of the match played out with City threatening to add to their tally as Villa chased shadows, with the home side stroking the ball around in a carnival atmosphere. Jovetic and Toure then scored late on to make it 4-0 as City turned on the style after scoring their 99th and 100th goals of a stellar PL campaign.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Yaya Toure, Milner (Jovetic, 60′), Silva (Fernandinho, 76′), Nasri, Dzeko (Negredo, 86′)

Goals: Dzeko (64′, 71′) Jovetic (90′), Toure (90′)

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark (Robinson, 79′), Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Bowery (Bacuna, 59′)

Watch – Manchester City’s title bid in the balance after nervy first half

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Manchester City have 45 minutes to go two points clear at the top of the Premier League standings, as the Citizens have had a nervy first half against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Drawing 0-0 at half time, Manuel Pellegrini’s men desperately need all three points to all but seal the PL title going into their final game of the season, a home game versus West Ham.

However if Villa really upset the apple cart and beat City on Wednesday, then a win on the final day for Liverpool will seal them the PL title.

Surely not….

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

Early on City pushed to go ahead as Aleksandar Kolarov bombed on down the left but his cross was hacked away by Villa’s defense. Soon after Vincent Kompany rose to try and head home a corner kick but USMNT ‘keeper Brad Guzan did just enough to put him up as City’s skipper headed wide. Guzan came up big again soon after, as James Milner’s reverse ball found Pablo Zabaleta and he cut the ball back to Yaya Toure slotted the ball goalwards but Guzan denied City’s Ivorian powerhouse with a reaction stop. City continued to prod and probe but Villa’s defense held firm and made it extremely difficult for the Citizens to engineer clear-cut opportunities early on.

As the first half came to a close City still couldn’t break down a stubborn Villa side who showed no sign of attacking intent (apart from a brief chance at the back post for Jordan Bowery and a Andreas Weimann breakaway) in the pouring rain at the Etihad Stadium. Zabaleta was getting free down the right-hand side and played in David Silva before the break but the Spaniard saw his effort blocked. In first half stoppage time City again worked the ball to the right where James Milner delivered a perfect ball into the six-yard box but Samir Nasri directed his effort wide of the near post.

After 45 minutes the Citizens were on course to drop two points and let Liverpool back into the title race. Can the Citizens seal a crucial win in the second half?

WATCH LIVE: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Discuss)

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Just two matches separate Manchester City from the Premier League title, but Aston Villa will hope to complete an upset that would involve their first series sweep in 50-plus years when the two teams tangle at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. (Watch live at 2:45pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

City can leapfrog Liverpool for first place in the table with a win, and even a draw would push them into first place on goal differential. The Reds have 81 points, while City enters the game with 80.

Villa last did the double over City in 1963, and would relish the chance to capitalize on the confidence gained by ensuring their Premier League safety with a 3-1 weekend win over Hull City.

WATCH LIVE AT 2:45pm ET ON NBCSN AND ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

In team news Man City bring in David Silva and Aleksandar Kolarov to replace Sergio Aguero and Gael Clichy, while Villa bring in Jordan Bowery and Karim El Ahmadi for Gabby Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Yaya Toure, Milner, Silva, Nasri, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy, Fernandinho, Negredo, Jovetic

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Bowery. Subs: Steer, Bacuna, Sylla, Holt, Robinson, Grealish, Tonev

Premier League Roundup: Man City go top, Fulham and Cardiff relegated

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On Saturday in the Premier League we said goodbye to Fulham and Cardiff City as both were relegated after their defeats.

At the other end of the table, Manchester City took a huge step towards the PL title as they ground out a 3-2 win over Everton, knowing if they win their last two home games of the season against Aston Villa and West Ham then they will win their second title in three seasons.

MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Elsewhere Sunderland bagged a massive 1-0 victory away at Manchester United, Villa beat Hull 3-1, West Ham beat London rivals Tottenham to secure their PL status and Southampton scored late to beat Swansea on the road.

In case you missed anything, below we have recaps, analysis and videos of all seven PL games from a pivotal Saturday. Enjoy.

Aston Villa 3-1 Hull City

Villa went ahead inside a minute thanks to Ashley Westwood’s goal but an own goal from Jordan Bowery made it 1-1. Then Andreas Weimann popped up twice before the break and made it 3-1 and the Villans cruised to victory. Paul Lambert’s men have staved off relegation once again, while Hull still aren’t mathematically safe.

Everton 2-3 Manchester City

A nervy and edgy encounter at Goodison as City just held on for a crucial win. Ross Barkley’s stunner put Everton but then Sergio Aguero equalized and Edin Dzeko headed them ahead before the break. After the interval Dzeko struck again as City looked to be cruising but Everton, despite a strange atmosphere from the home crowd as they knew a win would help crosstown rivals win the league, pulled another back as Romelu Lukaku headed home. That set up a nervous finish but if City beat Aston Villa and West Ham at home in their final two games, they will have won the PL title.

Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland

Sunderland beat Ryan Giggs’ United side at Old Trafford, as Sebastian Larsson’s cool volley after 30 minutes did the damage. United missed Wayne Rooney through injury and struggled to create any top chances, as Giggs’ second game in charge ended in defeat. The Black Cats are three points clear of safety and if Norwich lose on Sunday against Chelsea they will be safe from relegation.

Newcastle United 3-0 Cardiff City

The Magpies fans staged their mass walkout in the 69th minute, but the fans who did stay in the stadium saw Newcastle hammer Cardiff 3-0 and relegate the Bluebirds in the process. Goals from Shola Ameobi, Loic Remy and Steven Taylor stopped the Magpies’ run of six-straight defeats. As for Cardiff, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side head back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Stoke City 4-1 Fulham

The Potters hammered the final nail in Fulham’s coffin with a resounding win at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke led 1-0 at half time after Peter Odemwingie tapped home, then Marko Arnautovic and Oussama Assaidi scored before Kieran Richardson netted a consolation for the Cottagers. Fulham’s misery was complete later on when Jonathan Walters scored, as Felix Magath saw his team’s 13-year stay in the PL come to an end.

Swansea City 0-1 Southampton

Not a classic at the Liberty Stadium as the Swans and Saints both had nothing but pride to play for. Saints pushed hard throughout but Swansea had some great chances to go ahead however Wilfried Bony was off target. In stoppage time the winner arrived as Ashley Williams’ clearance looped back towards his own goal and Rickie Lambert was on hand to knock home on the line. Saints will finish eight, midtable for Swansea.

West Ham United 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur

The Hammers are safe after a derby win over Spurs at Upton Park. Andy Carroll’s header was put into his own net by Harry Kane just after Tottenham had been reduced to 10-man following Younes Kaboul hauling down Stewart Downing as last man. Speaking of Downing, he scored a free kick before the break to make it 2-0 and Tottenham never recovered.

Aston Villa 3-1 Hull City: Villa have likely saved themselves (video)

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Had Hull won at Villa Park on Saturday, they’d have been safe – and Aston Villa would’ve been in serious trouble. Instead the hosts put in one of their most impressive home performances this season and, although they’re yet to be mathematically deemed safe, they almost certainly saved their season.

The game got off to a fantastic start for the hosts, who scored with less than a minute played. Despite what appeared to be a defensive setup from Paul Lambert, Villa were off and running from the start. Gabby Agbonlahor burst down the left, putting in a cross that fell perfectly to Marc Albrighton. The wideman wiffed it, but Ashley Westwood was there to put in the goal.

Injury struck Agbonlahor once again, before thirty minutes were up. Lambert put on Jordan Bowery in his place, perhaps thinking him more experienced than U21 star Callum Robinson. Andi Weimann very nearly created a goal for Bowery minutes after his introduction, but the Austrian failed to get in the pass.

Villa were left ruing the missed opportunity when Hull equalized shortly thereafter. Ron Vlaar’s foul on Shane Long gave the visitors a free kick, which Tom Huddlestone took short. Liam Rosenior’s shot took a deflection off Bowery and landed in the back of the net.

The Tigers, knowing that a win would ensure their own safety, pressed on to find another goal. Brad Guzan did well to ensure his side stayed level, flying to his right to keep out a long-range effort from Huddlestone.

It took the hosts some time to regain their footing, but in the 39th minute, it was Steve Harper’s turn to take center stage. The Hull keeper made two fine saves in quick succession, first denying a shot from Weimann, then keeping out a strike from Bowery.

Villa continued to press forward. A series of corners saw two headers from Nathan Baker, the first blocked, the second saved by Harper. The third try was the charm: Weimann managed to put in his header, nudged in from close range.

The Austrian was determined to silence those who’d critiqued his performances this season, calling for him to be benched. In injury time, Weimann put in another, a sharp header into the bottom corner. Credit to Bowery, too, as his work down the left ensured Villa went into the break up 3-1.

Villa looked determined to close out their home games on a good note. Rather than allow Hull City back into the game, the hosts kept pressing, with Bowery making a convincing argument for more playing time. The forward, once again combining with Weimann, nearly added a fourth for Villa, but Harper managed to push his shot over the bar.

While Steve Bruce made an attempt to change up the visitors’ attack, replacing Nikica Jelavić with Yannick Sagbo, the Villa defense, surprisingly, held firm. Huddlestone forced a save from Guzan in the 75th minute, but that was about the last action seen in this one.

LINEUPS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, Albrighton (El Ahmadi 76), Agbonlahor (Bowery 24), Weimann (Bacuna 82)

Goals: Westwood 1′; Weimann 41; 45+3′

Hull City: Rosenior, Figueroa, Chester (Bruce 43), Davies, Meyler (Quinn 45), Huddlestone, Livermore, Jelavic (Sagbo 69), Long, Elmohamady

Goals: Bowery o.g. 28′