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Saturday 03 May 2014

Review: City hit summit as Fulham and Cardiff go down

Man City go top with win over Everton while losses condemn Fulham and Cardiff to relegation

Manchester City moved a step closer to winning the Barclays Premier League with a comeback victory over Everton while Fulham and Cardiff City were relegated from the Barclays Premier League as Sunderland boosted their survival prospects with a victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Man City secured a gripping 3-2 win at Everton to go top of the Barclays Premier League and take a firm hold on the title race. In a thrilling encounter at Goodison Park, Manuel Pellegrini's charges did enough to claim three points and edge ahead of Liverpool by virtue of a significantly superior goal difference.

City can therefore all but guarantee a second Barclays Premier League crown in three seasons by winning their remaining matches, at home to Aston Villa and West Ham United, while Arsenal are now assured of the final UEFA Champions League qualifying place as a result of Everton's defeat.

The Toffees looked as though they might derail City's title bid when Ross Barkley opened the scoring for the hosts with a remarkable long-range effort, but Everton manager Roberto Martinez was made to pay for an ambitious 3-4-3 formation as the visitors exploited his team's left-hand side.

Antolin Alcaraz was pulled out of position as Sergio Aguero levelled matters and the visitors were scarcely affected despite the mercurial Argentinian hobbling out of the action shortly afterwards.

Edin Dzeko scored either side of half-time but City allowed the action to drift and Romelu Lukaku pulled Everton back into the contest with a 65th-minute header.

A breathless finale ensued, yet Pellegrini's side rallied to hang on in the city where their title dreams had suffered a seemingly telling blow in a 3-2 loss to Liverpool three weeks ago.

At the other end of the table Fulham went down 4-1 at Stoke City, while Cardiff lost 3-0 to Newcastle United meaning that neither side could catch Sunderland in 17th place after a Sebastian Larsson goal earned them three points with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.

The results mean that Norwich City, who are 18th, need to avoid defeat away to Chelsea tomorrow to keep alive their hopes of staying in the Barclays Premier League. The Canaries are three points behind Sunderland and have a much inferior goal difference.

Mark Hughes' Stoke side sent his former club Fulham into the Championship with a convincing victory at the Britannia Stadium. Magath had never suffered relegation during his managerial career, but the German's impressive record came to an end as his men were swept aside by a rampant Stoke in a one-sided match that ensured the London club's 13-season stay in the top flight is over.

Peter Odemwingie opened the scoring with his sixth goal since his move from Cardiff. Marko Arnautovic doubled Stoke's lead in a match they dominated from start to finish and Oussama Assaidi added a third goal. Kieran Richardson replied for Fulham, but Stoke substitute Jon Walters swiftly rouned off the scoring to compound Fulham's misery.

Cardiff needed all three points at St James' Park to stand any chance of preventing an immediate return to the Championship, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men rarely looked like claiming victory as they succumbed to a 3-0 reverse. A first-half header from Shola Ameobi and late goals from Loic Remy and Steven Taylor secured Newcastle's win.

Sunderland are all but assured of Barclays Premier League football after they handed Ryan Giggs his first defeat at interim manager of Manchester United. Gus Poyet's men made it 10 points from the last 12 thanks to Sebastian Larsson's first-half volley at Old Trafford. Sunderland hold a three-point lead over third-bottom Norwich and a vastly superior goal difference. Following a vibrant 4-0 win over Norwich last Sunday, Giggs saw his side give the visitors a first league win at Old Trafford since May 1968.

Relegation fears at Villa Park were lifted regardless of others' results as Aston Villa returned to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Hull City. The hosts came into Saturday's game having taken just one point from their previous six matches, but Ashley Westwood's early strike and two goals from Andreas Weimann sparked celebrations among the Villa faithful.

Paul Lambert's men are now six points clear of 18th-placed Norwich and, with only two matches remaining as well as a vastly superior goal difference, are effectively assured of enjoying top-flight status for a 27th consecutive campaign. Hull, however, are not yet mathematically safe but just need to ensure that either Sunderland, who are two points behind them, or Norwich, who are five points back, do not overtake them with two matches remaining. A point would almost certainly suffice to secure their survival.

After Westwood's first-minute opener, Hull replied shortly before the half-hour mark when substitute Jordan Bowery put through his own net. Weimann took centre stage in the closing stages of the opening half, twice heading in as the hosts secured a first home win since March 15.

Earlier in the day, West Ham United earned their third win of the season over Tottenham Hotspur with a 2-0 victory. Following a reasonably open start to proceedings, Younes Kaboul was sent off after 25 minutes for bringing down Stewart Downing as the winger bore down on goal.

Matters worsened for Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood when an Andy Carroll header deflected in off Harry Kane just two minutes later and, on the stroke of half-time, Downing scored his first goal for West Ham with a free-kick from the edge of the area.

Rickie Lambert scored an injury-time winner as Southampton claimed a 1-0 victory at Swansea City. The forward started the match on the bench, but bundled the ball over the line after a fluffed Ashley Williams clearance in the dying embers of the match to claim the three points in a fixture of little consequence at either end of the table.

The visitors enjoyed the lion's share of possession, but failed to cause Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm too many problems for the best part, while Artur Boruc had a comfortable 90 minutes at the other end. Wilfried Bony and Sam Gallagher each missed opportunities to break the deadlock, both sending efforts over the crossbar in the opening period. But it was Lambert's scrappy effort at the death that settled matters for a side assured of an eighth-placed finish at the end of the season.

Remember you can follow all the Barclays Premier League action in our Carlsberg Live Match Centre at live.premierleague.com. The Carlsberg Live Match Centre brings you match facts and stats, manager press conference videos, action images, as well as the latest Fantasy Premier League points for your team.

West Ham 2-0 Spurs | #WHUTOT | More on Live Match Centre >>

Aston Villa 3-1 Hull  | #AVLHUL |  More on the Carlsberg Live Match Centre >>

Man Utd 0-1 Sunderland  | #MUNSUN |  More on Carlsberg Live Match Centre >>

Newcastle 3-0 Cardiff | #NEWCAR  |  More on Carlsberg Live Match Centre >>

Stoke 4-1 Fulham  | #STKFUL  |  More on Carlsberg Live Match Centre >>

Swansea 0-1 Southampton  | #SWASOU  |  More on Carlsberg Live Match Centre >>

Everton 2-3 Man City  | #EVEMCI  |  More on Carlsberg Live Match Centre >>

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