LONDON, England, January 19 – Manchester City cut Manchester United’s Premier League lead to four points by beating Fulham 2-0 on Saturday thanks to a brace of goals from Spanish midfielder David Silva.
United are not in action until they visit Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and defending champions City took advantage to breathe fresh impetus into their title defence.
Silva broke the deadlock after just 96 seconds at the Etihad Stadium, slamming home from six yards after Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer parried a long-range shot from Edin Dzeko.
Steve Sidwell hit the post for the visitors in the 31st minute and City lost Pablo Zabaleta to injury before Silva added a second with 21 minutes left, gathering a Carlos Tevez flick and beating Schwarzer with a dinked finish.
Meanwhile, Liverpool reacted to last weekend’s 2-1 loss at United in emphatic fashion by thrashing Norwich City 5-0 at Anfield to close to within three points of the European places.
Jordan Henderson broke the deadlock with a vicious 26th-minute half-volley before home debutant Daniel Sturridge’s clever dummy freed Luis Suarez to beat Mark Bunn for his seventh goal in three games against the Canaries.
Sturridge tapped in his third goal in three games for his new club in the 59th minute, with Steven Gerrard getting in on the act from 25 yards before Norwich’s Ryan Bennett put through his own goal in the 74th minute.
“We have played well for most of the season but Daniel coming in adds that extra threat,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
“He has pace and power and he has got good touch and good skills.”
At the bottom of the table, Adam Le Fondre scored twice in six minutes as Reading dragged themselves out of the relegation zone by coming from behind once again to win 2-1 at Newcastle United.
Yohan Cabaye’s picture-perfect free-kick put Newcastle in front 10 minutes prior to the interval but Le Fondre equalised 65 seconds after coming on as a 70th-minute substitute and then curled in a 77th-minute winner.
“The win can be a massive springboard for us,” said Le Fondre.
“We’ve done well since Boxing Day and now we’ve transformed it into a win away from home.”
It was Reading’s second improbable comeback in two games following their dramatic 3-2 success over West Bromwich Albion last weekend and it meant that Newcastle remain two points above the bottom three.
Joe Cole scored the first goal of his second spell at West Ham United to prevent former manager Harry Redknapp from enjoying victory on his return to Upton Park with Queens Park Rangers.
New signing Loic Remy marked his QPR debut with a coolly-taken 14th-minute goal but Cole gave West Ham a share of the spoils when he converted from close range in the 68th minute after Julio Cesar saved from Carlton Cole.
Sunderland continued their recent revival by coming back from a goal down to win 3-2 at Wigan Athletic, who slipped into the drop zone.
David Vaughan’s own goal gave Wigan a fourth-minute lead but the visitors equalised in the 17th minute when Craig Gardner converted a penalty after James McCarthy was penalised for hand-ball.
A brace from Steven Fletcher put Sunderland 3-1 up by half-time and Martin O’Neill’s men held on despite a 79th-minute goal for Wigan by on-loan Manchester United forward Angelo Henriquez.
Swansea City warmed up for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final with Chelsea by beating Stoke City 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium.
Teenage defender Ben Davies, 19, claimed his first senior goal to put the hosts ahead four minutes into the second half.
Jonathan de Guzman claimed a classy brace, netting a 57th-minute free-kick and then steering a shot past Asmir Begovic from Danny Graham’s lay-off, before Michael Owen broke his Stoke duck to register a late consolation.
Saturday’s late game is a Midlands derby between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa, who sank into the bottom three last weekend.