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Chelsea tighten grip on top spot, City cruise past S'land

ESPN staff
October 6, 2012 « Lowly Stirling shock Rangers | Chartbeat test »

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Chelsea strengthened their hold on top spot by strolling past Norwich, while Manchester City kept up their pursuit with a romp against Sunderland, and Olivier Giroud scored his first Premier League goal as Arsenal beat West Ham.

Elsewhere, the heat was turned up on Mark Hughes as QPR lost again, while Wigan held high-flying Everton.

A Chelsea team featuring headline-grabbing duo John Terry and Ashley Cole thrashed Norwich 4-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Fernando Torres spurned a golden early chance, hesitating when one-on-one with the goalkeeper and allowing Leon Barnett to come back and make a tackle, and he was punished when Grant Holt silenced the home crowd, blasting past Petr Cech after Wes Hoolahan's cross was nodded into his path.

The Canaries had their lead snatched away almost immediately, however, as Torres atoned for his early error by scoring from Branislav Ivanovic's pass. Frank Lampard completed the turnaround, underlining his claim for a regular starting place by drilling in from the edge of the box.

Eden Hazard took the game further out of Norwich's reach, profiting from Juan Mata's fine approach work to curl into the corner.

Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy made a string of fine saves after the break - yet he was powerless to stop Branislav Ivanovic's volley thundering in.

Manchester City bounced back from their draw with Borussia Dortmund with a 3-0 win over Sunderland.

City boss Roberto Mancini made seven changes to the side that were fortunate to claim a 1-1 draw with Dortmund in the Champions League. It was partly down to injury and partly down to the short amount of time between games.

It did not affect City in any way as they powered ahead inside five minutes. Carlos Tevez was restored to the starting line-up and he had a hand in the opener. The Argentine's feet were too quick for Carlos Cuellar who hacked Tevez down on the edge of the box.

It proved a costly challenge as Aleksandar Kolarov stepped up and rifled a left-footed free-kick in off the post.

Chances came and went for City, with Simon Mignolet making a couple of fine saves and Danny Rose heading off the line to deny Micah Richards.

But just as frustration looked like setting in, Kolarov was played in down the left and he delivered a pin-point cross for Sergio Aguero to score his first goal at the Etihad since the strike that won the Premier League in May.

And the seal was put on the performance in the dying stages as a free kick from James Milner flashed off Craig Gardner and over Mignolet.

Aleksandar Kolarov was in the thick of the action for Manchester City © PA Photos
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Arsenal survived falling behind in the first half to record a 3-1 victory at West Ham. Mohamed Diame's strike put the hosts in front, before Giroud's equaliser and goals from Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla rounded off the triumph.

Leighton Baines' late penalty rescued a point for Everton in the 2-2 draw at Wigan Athletic.

Arouna Kone nudged the hosts in front in controversial circumstances, looking a yard offside as he buried Shaun Maloney's centre. But Everton hit back almost instantly, with Nikica Jelavic finding the target after Steven Pienaar's mishit shot arrowed towards him.

Wigan were not thrown off their stride though, and Franco di Santo restored their lead by smashing into the roof of the net from Kone's cutback. There was a late sting in the tail for the Latics, however, as Baines sent his spot-kick soaring into the roof of the net.

QPR remain bottom of the table and winless following a 3-2 reverse at West Brom.

QPR's defensive troubles were again in evidence as West Brom took an early lead, Shane Long whipping in a cross that James Morrison converted. A shocking clearance from Anton Ferdinand allowed Zoltan Gera to pile more misery on the Hoops - but a superb finish from Adel Taarabt, scoring for the second time in as many games, halved the deficit.

The visitors seemed to be heading for an equaliser until Youssouf Mulumbu killed them off with a neat finish - although Esteban Granero managed a consolation for QPR.

Swansea fought back from two goals behind to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Reading.

Reading edged in front against the run of play, Pavel Pogrebnyak netting following Michel Vorm's howler as the ball went straight through his hands. A second was added by Noel Hunt, whose crisp volley was too sweetly struck to keep out.

Swansea pressed and pressed in the second period, and forced a breakthrough thanks to a diving header from Michu. That pushed Reading firmly against the ropes, and they hit the canvas when Wayne Routledge found an equaliser.

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