Man City opens up 3-point lead at top

Updated: January 4, 2012, 6:56 PM ET
Associated Press

Manchester City rediscovered its attacking flair to sweep aside Liverpool with a 3-0 victory Tuesday night that opened a three-point lead over Manchester United in the English Premier League.

Sergio Aguero scored on an early blunder by goalkeeper Pepe Reina, and Yaya Toure and James Milner added goals for Manchester City, which lost at Sunderland and tied at West Bromwich Albion durign the busy holiday period.

"We were incredibly efficient, and it's a great win," City captain Vincent Kompany said. "It is one of the top six teams out of the way, and now we know United and the other teams have to play each other."

On a night of heavy rain, Aguero put City ahead in the 10th minute with a shot that took a slight deflection and bounced past Reina, who dived but missed the ball entirely. Toure doubled the lead in the 33rd with a header and Milner converted a penalty kick in the 75th after Martin Skrtel fouled Toure.

City manager Roberto Mancini apologized later for brandishing an imaginary yellow card at Skrtel.

"In the moment maybe I did that because I was not happy with the referee, but I made a mistake," Mancini said.

City's Gareth Barry was ejected in the 73rd minute for his second yellow card, given for bumping Daniel Agger.

"If you want to be a successful team, and they are one, you have got to be clinical," Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said. "We've got to get that into our makeup. Tonight we never had that. It's a lesson learned for us."

Liverpool was without Luis Suarez, who started an eight-game suspension for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

City (15-2-3) has 48 points, three more than United (14-2-3), which is at Newcastle on Wednesday.

Tottenham (13-3-3) is next with 42 points after winning 1-0 over visiting West Bromwich Albion (6-11-4) on Jermain Defoe's 63rd-minute goal.

In the night's other game, Sunderland (6-8-6) won 4-1 at Wigan, its fourth victory since Martin O'Neill replaced Steve Bruce as manager. Craig Gardner, James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon and David Vaughan scored for the visitors, who moved into 10th place. Hugo Rodallega scored for 18th-place Wigan (3-11-6).


Defending champion Real Madrid overcame a two-goal halftime deficit, beating Magala 3-2 in the first leg of the fifth round of the Copa del Rey.

Sergio Sanchez and Martin Demichelis gave Malaga the lead with almost identical headers in the 10th and 29th minutes, but Sami Khedira scored in the 68th, Gonzalo Higuain tied it two minutes later and Karim Benzema got the go-ahead goal in the 78th.

Madrid could advance to a quarterfinal against Barcelona, which hosts Osasuna on Wednesday night.

In other games, third-tier Mirandes won 2-0 at home against Racing Santander, second-tier Alcorcon had a 2-1 home victory against Levante and third-tier Albacete tied 0-0 with Athletic Bilbao.

The second legs of the total-goals matchups are next week.


American defender Oguchi Onyewu tapped in a cross from 5 yards in the 88th minute, giving Sporting Lisbon a 1-1 tie against Rio Ave in the Portuguese League Cup.

Monday's goal was the third of the season for Onyewu, who scored in the league against Rio Ave in a 3-2 win on Sept. 19 and against Nacional in a 1-0 victory on Dec. 10.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press