MANCHESTER: Tottenham snatched a surprise interval lead over Manchester City at Eastlands but second-half strikes from Sergio Aguero and supersub Edin Dzeko saw the Premier champions roar 2-1 ahead and extend their unbeaten record.
City needed victory both to dispel talk of dissent in the ranks and to keep leaders and neighbours Manchester United within sight. They had David Silva fit to return after a month’s injury absence to support strikers Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez who was making his 100th appearance for the club.
Edin Dzeko started on the substitutes’ bench with Mario Balottelli sitting in the stands for what Mancini described as “football reasons.”
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas produced his own minor surprises. City old boy Emmanuel Adebayor led the attack with Jermain Defoe dropped to the subs’ bench despite his midweek hat-trick against Maribor in the Europa League.
In the 21st minute Tottenham went ahead when Tom Huddlestone skimmed in a right-wing free kick and Steven Caulker forced his way through City’s central defence for a downward header to which keeper Joe Hart reached a hand but could not keep out of his goal.
Carls Tevez, making his 100th appearance for City, wasted an equalising opportunity four miniutes before half-time when played into space by fit-again David Silva. However the Argentinian mishit his shot and keeper Brad Friedel – again keeping France skipper Hugo Lloris on the Spurs subs’ bench – dropped to his right to grasp the ball.
Friedel was in decisive, saving action in the first minute of first-half stoppage time when he saved, this time to his left, from Pedro Zabaleta.
City went in at half-time frustrated not only with their own performance but with the refereeing of Michael Oliver who turned down penalty appeals for hands against William Gallas, making his 300th Premier League start, and a foul by Huddlestone.
But, after Mancini switched tactics to go to three at the back, so City began to overwhelm Tottenham in midfield and Aguero slid home a deserved equaliser midway through the second half. With two minutes remaining Dzeko found a split-second of time and half a hard of space to thump the winner into the roof of the net.
Six of the Bosnian’s seven goals have been winning strikes as a substitute.
At Stamford Bridge Chelsea withstood some attractive football in the opening exchanges from Liverpool and took the lead through skipper, John Terry who marked his return after a four-game domestic suspension with a headed goal. Liverpool allowed him an extraordinary amount of space to meet a right wing corner from Juan Mata.
Matches between the two clubs have been sharp-tempered affairs over the last decade, ever since some controversial meetings between the clubs in the Champions League. This time the focus of rivalry attention was between Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez, the Liverpool hero who defected to Chelsea and his Uruguayan replacement at Anfield.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard had described Suarez, in the build-up to the game, as the greatest striker to play for the club during his time there. Similarly manager Brendan Rodgers had paid tribute to Suarez’s character and loyalty in sticking with the club after the managerial changes during the summer and then with his commitment out on the pitch at a time when he is the only experienced striker on the club’s books.
Suarez had scored five goals in his five previous Premier appearances and that statistic was not lost on Chelsea who looked far more secure in defence with Terry restored to league duty. But Terry’s match was ended after 34 minutes when he collapsed after twisting his right knee in a collision with Suarez.
Terry is a controversial figure within the English game but his courage and commitment out on the pitch has never been in question and it was bad news for Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo in having to substitute him immediately with England colleague Gary Cahill. Play was held up for four minutes before Terry was carried off on a stretcher.
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