Mancini’s men put Sunderland defeat behind them with comprehensive win that moves them three points clear of clear of title rivals Man United

MANCHESTER CITY 03 vs LIVERPOOL 0

MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini last night hailed a significant win in his side’s pursuit of the Premier League title following a comprehensive victory over Liverpool at Etihad Stadium.

Sergio Aguero’s 16th goal of the season, a dipping 25-yard drive which squirmed under the body of Pepe Reina, put City ahead in the 10th minute and Yaya Toure’s header doubled the lead when he beat Glen Johnson to David Silva’s near post corner.

The possibility of a Liverpool comeback was enhanced when Gareth Barry was sent off for a second bookable offence. But when Martin Skrtel ended Toure’s 50-yard surge into the penalty area with a clumsy tackle just two minutes later, James Milner emphatically accepted the invitation to seal three valuable points from 12 yards with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Having collected just one point from their festive fixtures before last night, Mancini admitted it was vital his side returned to winning ways just 48 hours after slipping to an injury-time defeat at Sunderland.

“This was a very important win,” said Mancini, whose side moved three points clear of Manchester United, who face a tough fixture at Newcastle tonight. “It was a difficult game because Liverpool is a fantastic team and also because Liverpool played four days ago and we played two days ago. This was terrible for us.

“It was a great response, the result against Sunderland was crazy. We deserved to win 3-0 that game, so I am pleased we responded so well after that setback.”

Liverpool, minus Luis Suarez, who was serving the first match of an eight-game ban handed down after he was found guilty by the Football Association of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, dominated possession but were less than efficient in attack.

For City, Vincent Kompany was again outstanding at the back, while Toure, playing his last game before departing for the African Cup of Nations, was by some distance the most impressive midfielder on show.

“I try to find another Yaya in the squad but there isn’t one. He is very important to the team and he is a big influence on the side, so we will miss him,” added Mancini.

MATCH ANALYSIS
BY JAMES GOLDMAN

DUGOUT VIEW
If you want to be a successful team, and they are one, you have got to be clinical. We’ve got to get that into our make-up. It’s a lesson learned for us. We have to take it on the chin and make sure we don’t repeat it

– Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish

TALKING POINT
Though City appear to be over their mini blip, it will be interesting to note how they cope without midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure, now bound for the African Cup of Nations. For Liverpool, with Luis Suarez out until mid February, it really is a case of now or never for £35m misfit Andy Carroll.

Liverpool opt not to appeal Suarez’s ban
LIVERPOOL will not appeal the eight-game ban handed to Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. The club issued a statement last night in which they again took issue with the FA’s verdict, while the player himself said he would “carry out the suspension with the resignation of someone who has done nothing wrong”. The ban kicked in last night and is likely to end before 11 February when Liverpool face United at Old Trafford.