LONDON Sergio Aguero scored twice to help Manchester City go top of the Premier League on goal difference on Saturday while champions Chelsea pulled off an extraordinary escape in a 3-3 draw at home to Everton.
Argentine striker Aguero, last season's top scorer back in full flow after returning from injury, proved more than a handful for Crystal Palace as City romped to a 4-0 home win at the Etihad Stadium.
City leapfrogged leaders Arsenal and Leicester City, with the top three all level on 43 points. Leicester were playing bottom side Aston Villa in the late kickoff while Arsenal travel to Stoke City on Sunday.
"Was it comfortable? No, because you never know in this game," Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini told the BBC.
"The first half, the two goals gave us more space as they've had to go for the draw. That allowed us to use that space and score two more."
Aguero scored in the 41st minute, after Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey failed to prevent Fabian Delph's long-range shot squirming under him in the 22nd, doubled his tally in the 68th and then set up David Silva for a late fourth.
John Terry netted for both sides as Chelsea pulled off an escape worthy of Harry Houdini, the veteran defender equalising in the dying seconds, despite looking suspiciously offside, to atone for his 50th-minute own goal.
All the goals at Stamford Bridge came in the second half, with Chelsea battling back from 2-0 down before substitute Ramiro Funes Mori put Everton back in front as the game entered stoppage time.
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, whose unbeaten record remained intact, conceded that the goal looked offside: "I like always to give a fair comment on the positive side and negative side," he told Sky Sports.
"I have watched it and I can agree.
"In the last minutes we sent our two central defenders on top and it was all or nothing, and at the end it paid off. I think the team in their effort deserved it."
Fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur closed the gap on the leaders to four points with a crushing 4-1 defeat of struggling Sunderland in the lunchtime match at White Hart Lane.
Danish international Christian Eriksen struck either side of halftime after Sunderland, mired in the relegation zone, had taken an early lead through Patrick van Aanholt.
While Spurs reignited their title challenge, fifth-placed West Ham United's push faltered with a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United.
Newcastle's victory lifted them out of the bottom three while troubled Swansea, who entertain Watford on Monday, dropped to 18th and a point ahead of Sunderland.
The Magpies' new 12 million-pound ($17.1 million) signing Jonjo Shelvey enjoyed a fine debut, contributing to both his side's goals.
"In the second half, we improved a lot. In the end we could have nicked a point when we had a great chance to equalise. But, overall, they deserved to beat us," said Hammers manager Slaven Bilic.
On a lively winter's afternoon for south-coast sides, Southampton beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0 for their third successive home win and Bournemouth overcame Norwich City by the same scoreline.
Liverpool, ninth, and Louis Van Gaal's sixth-placed Manchester United clash at Anfield on Sunday.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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