x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

City edge Sunderland in seven goal thriller

Manchester City showed their best and worst sides in the same game as poor defending and superb attacking play saw them win a seven-goal thriller against Sunderland at Eastlands.

Manchester City showed their best and worst sides in the same game as poor defending and superb attacking play saw them win a seven-goal thriller against Sunderland at Eastlands. City were off to a flying start with two goals inside 12 minutes. First Craig Bellamy raced into the box and squared to Roque Santa Cruz, who tapped in. Then Bellamy galloped into a similar position, checked inside and was bundled over by Nyron Nosworthy. Carlos Tevez converted the resulting penalty. But Sunderland fought back and soon made it 2-2. Andy Reid curled over a cross from the right, following a corner, and Kolo Toure completely lost John Mensah, who headed home. Then, after Toure completely missed the ball as he was attempting to clear, Jordan Henderson drove home the equaliser on 24 minutes. Nine minutes later, City regained the lead as Santa Cruz allowed Shaun Wright-Phillips's low cross to run on to Bellamy, whoexpertly curled a shot into the far corner. Henderson set up Kenwyne Jones to head home from close range and make it 3-3 just after the hour. But within minutes, Santa Cruz got his second when Gareth Barry broke clear on the left and squared for the Paraguyan to win the game. Michael Turner was sent off late on for Sunderland. Man of the match: Roque Santa Cruz (City)

John Carew's goal ensured Aston Villa completed a fruitful week, with their third win in eight days as they beat Stoke City to remain in third place in the table. The striker headed home Ashley Young's fine right-wing cross from close range in the 61st minute. Villa won 1-0 at Manchester United last Saturday and 2-0 at Sunderland in midweek, and have now put together four straight victories without conceding a goal. The winner came just six minutes after Carew, a first-half substitute for the inured Emile Heskey, had blasted over from the edge of the six-yard box. And the Norwegian showed his relief in a bizarre goal celebration which saw him kick the corner flag into the crowd, before taking his shirt off and kissing a young supporter. Villa deserved the win which moved them within two points of United, but they were fortunate not to fall behind in the first half when Mamady Sidibe's header was harshly disallowed for a push on a Stephen Warnock. Matthew Etherington, who put in the cross for Sidibe, had the visitors' best chance after the break, but blazed over from 12 yards in the 75th minute. The Potters have now won just one of their last seven, and they have just a solitary victory away from home. Man of the match: Stewart Downing (Villa)

England striker Peter Crouch improved Tottenham's chances of a Champions League place with a brace at Ewood Park. Crouch struck either side of half-time to make it a miserable first anniversary for Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce. When Allardyce arrived the club were second bottom of the table but under his stewardship relegation was avoided. However, they could be in for another battle to beat the drop after the manner of this home defeat. Blackburn almost took the lead on 14 minutes when a Benni McCarthy free-kick took a deflection off Aaron Lennon and deceived Heurelho Gomes, only to come back off the bar. Tottenham made the breakthrough in stoppage-time after Vedran Corluka chased a lost cause. The ball seemed to be drifting out of play but he managed to get in a cross and Crouch headed home off the underside of the bar. Blackburn nearly equalised on 53 minutes only for McCarthy's shot to hit the post and Sebastien Bassong cleared the ball to safety. Crouch made the game safe seven minutes from the end with his eighth strike of the season - a cool finish after substitute Jermaine Jenas had created the opening - to cement Spurs' fourth place in the table. Man of the match: Peter Crouch (Spurs) sports@thenational.ae