Manchester: Second-half goals by Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez earned Manchester City a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday that gave their fading hopes of retaining the Premier League crown a boost.
Chelsea had missed the chance to go ahead early in the second half at the Etihad Stadium when Frank Lampard had a penalty well saved by keeper Joe Hart while City had endured long spells of frustration as their many chances went to waste.
Toure’s sweetly-struck shot into the bottom right broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute, while substitute Tevez made sure of the three points with a right-footed missile five minutes from time.
The result puts second-placed City 12 points behind leaders Manchester United, who have 68 points from 27 games, while Chelsea stay third with 49.
“I think we deserved to win because we played well, maybe we could have scored more goals,” City manager Roberto Mancini told a news conference.
In the day’s only other Premier League game, Newcastle United beat relegation rivals Southampton 4-2 at home to move six points clear of danger.
After United had surged further ahead the previous day with a 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers, there was no doubt on the blue side of Manchester what would need to be done to keep the title race interesting for a little longer.
Toure shot at Chelsea keeper Petr Cech in the opening minute to set the tone for the first half as the hosts carved out several chances that came to nothing.
Centre back Matija Nastasic’s header was palmed away by Cech early on while forward Sergio Aguero should have struck a first-time shot rather than try to find a way round the keeper and midfielder Jack Rodwell had three decent opportunities.
It said a lot about Chelsea’s approach that their best first-half effort was a long-range free kick that Lampard sent way over the bar.
There was a similar story after the break as City continued to press for an opener, Aguero holding his head in his hands after one miss and lying on the ground in disbelief after fluffing another acrobatic effort.
Instead it was Chelsea, who had forced Hart into his first save moments earlier with an Eden Hazard effort, who suddenly found themselves with a golden chance to take charge when Demba Ba was brought down by Hart and the referee pointed to the spot.
Lampard stepped up, eyeing what would have been his 200th Chelsea goal, but his well struck 52nd-minute penalty was kept out by the outstretched Hart who had dived to his right.
“Frank Lampard is a great penalty taker and a bit of a hero of mine. We’ve spoken a lot about penalties but he’s strong-minded, he’s not going to be put off by an idiot like me,” Hart said.
“It was a case of trying to go the right way and get a strong hand on it.”
City’s players celebrated the save as if it had been a goal at the other end and seemed to find fresh energy for their task.
They got their reward 11 minutes later when Toure kept his composure while surrounded by Chelsea players on the edge of the box to stroke the ball into the right corner.
The result was put beyond doubt when Tevez, who had failed to score in his last eight league appearances, was fed by Silva before unleashing a shot that gave Cech no chance and warmed City hearts on a chilly afternoon in Manchester.
At the other end of the table, Papiss Cisse scored with a superb long-range effort in Newcastle’s victory over Southampton.
The visitors took an early lead when Rickie Lambert headed down a Jack Cork cross to Morgan Schneiderlin, who turned and shot into the bottom corner from 10 metres on three minutes.
The lead lasted half an hour before Moussa Sissoko tapped in from six metres and three minutes before the break Cisse smashed a superb shot past Southampton keeper Artur Boruc from 25 metres to put Newcastle ahead.
Southampton’s Lambert side-footed his 100th goal for the club to give Southampton hope, but it proved short-lived as Yohan Cabaye netted a penalty and a calamitous own goal from Jos Hooiveld wrapped up the points for Newcastle.
Newcastle moved up to 14th in the table with 30 points while Southampton are three points adrift in 16th.