London: Manchester City took advantage of Liverpool’s surprise 0-2 home defeat by Chelsea to move within striking distance of them at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Three points behind the leaders, City have a home game in hand and a goal difference that is eight better than Liverpool’s. They are only one point behind second-placed Chelsea, having played a game fewer.
City midfielder Yaya Toure, returning from injury, made the first goal for Edin Dzeko and scored the second before halftime.
Eleventh-placed Palace had won their previous five games to guarantee another year in the Premier League.
In an earlier match of the day, Sunderland’s biggest win of the season gave them a new hope of avoiding relegation when they beat fellow strugglers Cardiff City 4-0.
Cardiff, who had Spanish defender Juan Cala sent off just before half-time, replaced them in bottom position and with two games left are in serious danger of returning to the Championship (second tier) after one season in the top flight.
Their remaining matches are away to Newcastle on Saturday and at home to Chelsea the following weekend.
Cardiff have 30 points, one behind Fulham. Norwich City dropped to the bottom three on 32 points, the same as Sunderland but having played one game more.
Sunderland have drawn with title contenders City and beaten Chelsea in recent weeks, and manager Gus Poyet said results had given his side belief they could avoid the drop.
“Confidence is so important. We’ve given ourselves the biggest opportunity we could dream about.”
England under-21 international Connor Wickham scored twice for Sunderland, taking his tally to five goals in three games.
He opened the scoring from a corner on 26 minutes before Fabio Borini scored from a controversial penalty in added time at the end of the first half, after Cala was judged to have pulled Wickham’s shirt.
Referee Phil Dowd allowed play to briefly continue before awarding Sunderland a spot-kick and sending Cala off. Italian Emanuele Giaccherini added a third with 14 minutes left before Wickham grabbed his second on 86 minutes.