EPL: Title race heats up as City close in on Man United

London: Manchester City narrowed the gap on Manchester United from five points to three at the top of the Premier League on Sunday after they won 2-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers and United fought out an astonishing 4-4 draw with Everton at Old Trafford.

The results left the champions in first place on 83 points with City closing in on 80. Both teams have three matches to play and meet each other in what will almost certainly be the title decider at Manchester City a week on Monday.

City's victory at Molineux, with goals from Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri, also ensured that Wolves were relegated to the Championship (second tier) after three seasons in the top flight.

Manchester United and Everton fought out an astonishing 4-4 draw spiced with some outstanding goals at Old Trafford on Sunday as United blew the chance of moving eight points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports that Monday's game was shaping up as the most important Manchester derby United had played in his 25 years at the club.

 EPL: Title race heats up as City close in on Man United

Manchester United's Rooney reacts after Everton's Jelavic scored during their English Premier League soccer match in Manchester. Reuters

"We've given them the initiative, there is no question about that, and it makes the game at the Etihad the decider really. We have made it hard for ourselves, but we have to go there knowing we are capable of getting a result.

"There is no reason we can't do that. There has been an expectancy that this is City's decider, but it's our decider too. It's the most important derby. Game On."

He was unhappy with his team's defending, however.

"I thought it was a travesty we did not see the game out. Some of our goals were great goals and some of our football was fantastic today and I can't believe we've let in four goals at Old Trafford in a game as important as that.

"Defensive lapses cost us and we gave away some soft goals."

Everton manager David Moyes was naturally ecstatic that his side had avoided defeat after trailing by two goals twice and losing in an FA Cup semi-final to Liverpool last weekend.

"We were absolutely brilliant. We came here trying to win the game and get a result. We were down after losing last week and had the chance today to do well and stop people thinking our season was over.

"I don't think that any time we deserved to be two goals down. We knew it was going to be a gung-ho game and needed to make sure we got at them."

Everton opened the scoring with a superb Nikica Jelavic header after 33 minutes, but they trailed 3-1 and then 4-2 before salvaging a point with a Steven Pienaar equaliser six minutes from time. It was the sixth goal in a 25-minute second half spell.

United wiped out Everton's lead and went 3-1 ahead themselves with a header from Wayne Rooney against his old club, a superb curling shot from Danny Welbeck and a dink over goalkeeper Tim Howard after great build-up play by Nani with 60 minutes gone.

Marouane Fellaini made it 3-2 after 66 minutes with an unstoppable volley before Rooney struck with a low, swerving shot to make it 4-2 after 69 minutes. Evra could have put United further ahead but hit the post.

Like Rooney, Jelavic scored his second of the game to make it 4-3 after 83 minutes before Pienaar completed the scoring after Everton carved open United's defence a minute later.

There was still drama to come in the final minute of stoppage time as Howard denied his old club a winner with a superb diving save from a Rio Ferdinand thunderbolt from the edge of the box.

In Sunday's other game, former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson enjoyed his first return to Anfield since leaving the club as his West Bromwich Albion side won 1-0.

Reuters

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Updated Date: Apr 23, 2012 01:29:38 IST