Pepe Reina howler starts rot as Liverpool lose to Man City

Tottenham continue their advance with 1-0 win over Baggies thanks to Jermain Defoe

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:08 ON Wed 4 Jan 2012

NORMAL service has been resumed. Just two days after their stunning last gasp defeat to lowly Sunderland, Manchester City brushed aside the challenge of Liverpool with a comfortable 3-0 victory. The Sky Blues are now three points clear at the top of the Premier League with second place Manchester United taking on Newcastle this evening.

Tottenham, meanwhile, kept the pressure on the Manchester pair with a 1-0 defeat of West Bromwich, a win that moves the Lilywhites five points clear of Chelsea in third spot.

Conditions at the Etihad Stadium were atrocious, as was the form of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina, and it was his howler on ten minutes that allowed City to take the lead. Sergio Aguero's weak shot should have posed no problem but it squirmed under Reina's body and into the net.
 
Yaya Toure made it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark and James Milner converted a penalty on 75 minutes after referee Mike Jones ruled that Toure had been fouled by Martin Skrtel in the Sky Blues box.

"I didn't think we deserved to lose the game at Sunderland so it was important to win this game," said City boss Roberto Mancini later, who singled out Yaya Toure for praise. The 28-year-old will miss most of the next month as he plays for Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations. "He is a very important player. For this reason January is a big month."

In Mancini's view the title race could well be decided in the next few weeks with United suffering the same vagaries of form as City, while Tottenham come up on the outside. "United is a strong team but we can only go our own way and try to win every game," said Mancini. "It will be close from now until the end of the season and Tottenham are close as well."

Spurs won ugly against the Baggies at White Hart Lane with Jermain Defoe grabbing the winner in a dour contest. Defoe's bleached blond hair provided the only colour and his goal on 63 minutes was enough to edge past West Brom and move to within three points of Manchester United with a game in hand.

But it wasn't all good news for Spurs manager Harry Redknapp. Midfielder Sandro and defender William Gallas both picked up calf injuries to add to the club's growing casualty list. "It was a tough game for us," admitted Redknapp. "They didn't leave too many gaps at the back, but the little man [Defoe] managed to stick one away." · 

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