Soccer-Man City restore 12-point lead, United draw again

Premier League - Norwich City v Manchester City
Soccer Football – Premier League – Norwich City v Manchester City – Carrow Road, Norwich, Britain – February 12, 2022 Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

February 12, 2022

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester City’s relentless pursuit of the Premier League title continued with a thumping 4-0 win at Norwich City but Manchester United’s troubles continued as a 1-1 draw with Southampton further damaged their top-four hopes on Saturday.

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick with Phil Foden also on target as City restored their 12-point lead over Liverpool who face bottom club Burnley away on Sunday.

After being held to a draw by Burnley in midweek, United desperately needed a win at home to Southampton, but despite taking the lead when Marcus Rashford set up Jadon Sancho in the 21st minute they were again found wanting.

Southampton, beaten 9-0 on their last trip to Old Trafford, responded three minutes after halftime when Che Adams slotted into the corner via the post.

The visitors could even have won the game as Armando Broja forced David de Gea into a save while Stuart Armstrong blazed a good opportunity over the bar.

United moved into fifth spot, level on 40 points with West Ham United, but Arsenal (39) have two games in hand while Tottenham Hotspur (36) have played three games fewer.

Everton claimed a first league win under Frank Lampard to ease their relegation fears, beating Leeds United 3-0 to move five points clear of third-from-bottom Norwich.

Roy Hodgson’s first home game in charge of Watford went badly as a 2-0 home defeat by Brighton and Hove Albion left them one place off the bottom of the table.

Brentford ended a five-match losing run in the league with a 0-0 home draw against Crystal Palace with the only real highlight coming before kickoff as new signing Christian Eriksen was presented to the crowd eight months after he suffered a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

Sterling had failed to score in his last five appearances for City but curled home a fine finish to break Norwich’s resistance after 31 minutes at Carrow Road.

When Foden bundled in City’s second in the 48th minute the result was a formality but Sterling provided some gloss with a header and then converted a rebound after his penalty had been kept out by home keeper Angus Gunn.

City have now won 14 of their last 15 Premier League games, drawing the other.

“We need a lot of points. We know what rival we have, the closest one is Liverpool,” Guardiola, whose side have 63 of the 90 plus points he says they will need, said.

“(Liverpool) won’t drop many points for the quality they have. It’s the best squad they have in the last decade. We’ll have to win a lot of games.”

STUCK IN A RUT

While City motor on, United appear to be stuck in a rut under interim manager Ralf Rangnick who will soon have a decision to make about Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese has now failed to score in any of his last six appearances in all competitions — something he has not endured at club level since January 2009.

“He would have wished to score, I would have too,” Rangnick said. “Today he had his chances, with one cleared off the line, and had good moments in the second half.

“Again, it is not only Cristiano but as a team we create enough chances but cannot score. It is a major problem.”

Everton’s defeat by Newcastle United in midweek had left Lampard’s team in the relegation battle.

But they responded in resounding fashion on Saturday as goals by captain Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane and Anthony Gordon rewarded them for an impressive display.

“Relief is three points and the table looks slightly better this week but I’m just so proud of the performance,” Lampard said.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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