Man City thrashes Liverpool to stay on top
MANCHESTER, England - The Associated Press
Yaya Toure celebrates scoring his team’s second goal against Liverpool. REUTERS photoManchester City moved three points clear at the top of the English Premier League by easily dealing with Liverpool 3-0 at Etihad on Jan. 3.
First-half goals from Sergio Aguero, courtesy of a bad error by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, and Yaya Toure allowed City to continue its remarkable home form.
City lost midfielder Gareth Barry to a 73rd-minute red card, for a second bookable offense, but within a minute it added a third goal courtesy of a James Milner penalty.
The calendar year of 2011 saw City collect 52 points from a possible 54 on its own ground and, after one point from its last two away fixtures, Roberto Mancini’s team relished the return to home turf.
Liverpool was without Luis Suarez, after announcing before kickoff that it will not appeal the eight-match suspension handed to him for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
But City was left with personnel problems of their own with Yaya Toure, along with brother Kolo, leaving the club next week to play in the African Cup of Nations.
“I tried to find another Yaya in the squad but there isn’t another one,” Mancini said. “For us he is a very important player and for this reason January is a crucial month for us.
“If we can stay at the top in January, we could win the title but we play every three days and will be without Yaya, without Kolo. I think United are a strong team but we should think only about ourselves, try to win every game and see what happens in the end. It will be a hard championship from now until the end because also Tottenham are very close.”
Mancini gestured for the referee to send off Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel for the challenge that caused the penalty, and apologized for the action.
“I did it because I was nervous,” Mancini said. “Maybe I made a mistake by doing it but I didn’t agree with the ref for [Barry’s] second yellow card. I watched all the games yesterday and there were lots of tackles without any cards.”