LONDON, England, January 4 – Ten-man Manchester City went three points clear at the top of the Premier League on Tuesday after goals from Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and James Milner set up a 3-0 victory over Liverpool.
Liverpool — missing striker Luis Suarez after the club confirmed they would not appeal his eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra — were always struggling after City struck twice in the first half at Eastlands.
City, who had suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Sunderland on Sunday, opened the scoring on 10 minutes when Argentine star Aguero unleashed a speculative dipping effort towards the Liverpool goal.
Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina appeared to have the shot covered but somehow allowed the ball to skid under him to give City a 1-0 lead.
City doubled their tally on 33 minutes, when Toure met a David Silva corner with a powerful glancing header which flew past Reina.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish attempted to revive his side’s fortunes in the second half after introducing Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy from the bench, but it was to no avail as City maintained their grip on the contest.
City had Gareth Barry sent off for a second bookable offence on 73 minutes but the setback was only temporary as City made it 3-0 with Milner’s well-taken penalty after Martin Skrtel brought down Toure.
The victory saw Roberto Mancini’s City go three points of clear of second placed Manchester United, who play Newcastle at St James Park on Wednesday.
City captain Vincent Kompany paid tribute to the way his side had bounced back from their Sunderland defeat 48 hours earlier.
“It was massive for us, we didn’t deserve to lose against Sunderland but we were incredibly efficient today,” Kompany said.
“For us it was very challenging, playing two games in 48 hours, and it was a great three points.”
Reds boss Dalglish bemoaned his side’s failure to make the most of the few chances that came their way.
“If you want to be a successful team — and they are — then you’ve got to be clinical. We’ve got to get that into our make-up and tonight we never had it,” Dalglish said.
“We’ve got to be more clinical if we’re going to get to where we want to go. But it’s a lesson learned and we’ve got to take it on the chin.”
In Tuesday’s other games, third-placed Tottenham downed West Bromwich Albion 1-0 while Sunderland’s Martin O’Neill-inspired revolution saw the Black Cats register yet another victory with a 4-1 win at Wigan.
West Brom managed to frustrate Spurs for long periods at White Hart Lane before the deadlock was finally broken on 63 minutes by Jermain Defoe.
Rafael van der Vaart released Gareth Bale on the left flank and the Welsh winger’s cross was met by Defoe who evaded the attention of several Baggies defenders to score.
“We didn’t make as many chances as we normally do. Full credit to West Brom because they made it hard,” Redknapp said.
The result left Tottenham in third, six points adrift of leaders City, and three behind second-placed Manchester United.
At the DW Stadium, Craig Gardner’s superb free-kick in first half injury time set Sunderland on the path to their fourth win in six games since O’Neill took over in December following the dismissal of Steve Bruce.
Northern Ireland Under-21 international James McClean added a second on 55 minutes to seal a win which lifted Sunderland to 10th in the standings.
Wigan pulled a goal back through Hugo Rodallega to give the Latics hope but Sunderland’s third from Stephane Sessegnon on 73 minutes snuffed out any chance of a fightback from the home side before David Vaughan added a fourth.
O’Neill meanwhile praised the way his side had responded to the physical challenge of playing a second match in two days.
“Players were out on their feet against Man City a couple of days ago, but they summoned energy and courage and that was fantastic,” O’Neill said.