London: Manchester City took a huge step towards becoming champions for the first time since 1968 when they won 2-0 at Newcastle United on Sunday to move three points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table, with United in action later.
Yaya Toure scored both of City’s goals after 70 and 89 minutes to move them on to 86 points with just next week’s game at home to Queens Park Rangers to come.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” he told the BBC. “I am very happy, it is the first time I have scored two goals in one game in my career. And it brings us closer to the title. I am happy with my performance and the performance of the team.
“We have to be careful, it is not over. QPR are fighting for relegation and that will not be easy. But we are at home, that will give us the advantage.”
The game turned when City manager Roberto Mancini brought on Nigel de Jong for Samir Nasri after an hour and pushed Toure forward. He made all the difference with his two late goals.
Mancini told the BBC: “It is not finished. It is important that we get three points next week, we need a big effort – there is one game more.
“QPR will be tough, they are fighting for relegation. Nothing changes. It is ours to lose. It doesn’t depend on other teams anymore.”
United have 83 points and have two games to play – their match at Old Trafford against Swansea City later and next week’s match at Sunderland – but City also have a better goal difference than United.
Tottenham Hotspur missed the chance to leapfrog Arsenal and move into third place despite dominating Aston Villa at Villa Park where the game finished in a 1-1 draw.
Ciaran Clark put Villa ahead in the 35th minute and Emmanuel Adebayor equalised for Spurs with a 61st-minute penalty.
It was a disappointing result for Spurs as a victory would have left their destiny in their own hands against Fulham next week – a match defender Danny Rose will miss after a red card for a two-footed lunge on ex-Spurs team mate Alan Hutton.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp told the BBC: “We dominated the second half but we couldn’t get the second goal. It’s all to play for next week there are so many permutations.
“If we’d won today we’d have taken Newcastle and Chelsea out of the equation so we wanted three points but you can’t always have what’s ideal.”
Sunday’s results meant that Arsenal, who were held to a 3-3 draw at home by Norwich City on Saturday, stayed third on 67 followed by Spurs on 66, Newcastle 65 and Chelsea on 61.
Chelsea have two matches left, their first a visit to Anfield on Tuesday, postponed from Saturday when the two sides met in the FA Cup final. They finish at home against Blackburn Rovers next week and maintain a remote mathematical chance of finishing third themselves.
At the other end of the table QPR improved their chances of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship (second division) when they beat Stoke City 1-0 with Djibril Cisse scoring his fifth goal in seven league appearances for Rangers late in the game as QPR secured a fifth successive home win.
That result left Bolton Wanderers deep in trouble in 18th place after being held to a 2-2 draw at home by West Bromwich Albion.
Bolton led 2-0 with 16 minutes to play after a first-half penalty from Martin Petrov and a Billy Jones own goal after 74 minutes, but WBA, playing their second-to-last game under new England coach Roy Hodgson, came back for a point with goals from Chris Brunt and James Morrison.
The draw with Spurs lifted Villa to 38 points and they are now safe, one point ahead of QPR and Wigan Athletic and three clear of Bolton.
Blackburn, who are one off the bottom, play Wigan on Monday and if they fail to win, they will join already-relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship next season.
Wolves drew 0-0 with Everton on Sunday to end a sequence of nine home league defeats.
Manchester City last won the title 44 years ago, clinching it with a win at Newcastle and history appears to be repeating itself after Sunday’s result there.
Toure struck the opener when he curled a low shot past Tim Krul from 20 metres out and added the second from close range a minute from time.
The defeat left Newcastle, still chasing a top-four finish, in fifth place with one match to play.