x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Premier League round-up: Manchester City go top

Chelsea end their Everton hoodoo; Mario Balotelli's fourth goal in four games set Roberto Mancini's side on their way to victory over Aston Villa.

Mario Balotelli started the goal scoring against Aston Vilal yesterday, netting the first in a 4-1 win at Etihad Stadium.
Mario Balotelli started the goal scoring against Aston Vilal yesterday, netting the first in a 4-1 win at Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea 3 Everton 1

Chelsea showed there really might be no place like home as they finally ended their Everton hoodoo to maintain their 100 per cent record at Stamford Bridge this season.

Their recent results against Everton on their own ground might have been reason enough for them to want to move to a new stadium, but they swept to their first victory over their bogey side since the 2009 FA Cup final.

Everton had also not lost on their previous five league visits to Stamford Bridge, although they had not had to contend with Juan Mata, who was Chelsea's inspiration.

The Spain winger started the move that broke the deadlock - Daniel Sturridge nodding home his fourth goal of the season - and laid on the third for Ramires after John Terry scored on his 350th Premier League appearance.

There was to be no clean sheet for the Chelsea captain, however, with Apostolos Vellios grabbing a late consolation with his first touch after coming off the bench.

Manchester City 4 Aston Villa 1

Mario Balotelli did his best to prove to manager Roberto Mancini that he is his No 1 striker as his stunning goal helped Manchester City on their way to a crushing win over Aston Villa that handed them the outright leadership of the Premier League.

Given the chance to lead the line for a second straight game, the 21-year-old Italian, a £24 million (Dh139.4m) signing from Inter Milan last summer, thrived on the responsibility and his sumptuous first-half overhead kick brought his side to life after a sterile opening.

With Villa's resistance broken, Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and James Milner added second-half goals and Owen Hargreaves came on for his Premier League debut on a near-perfect afternoon for City, who pulled two points clear of cross-city rivals Manchester United ahead of next weekend's Manchester derby. Stephen Warnock netted a consolation for Villa.

Balotelli's goal was complemented by an industrious performance all over the pitch, reminiscent of his showing in the 4-0 win over Blackburn Rovers before the international break, with the Italian finally starting to look a more mature performer.

QPR 1 Blackburn Rovers 1

Christopher Samba's towering header helped beleaguered Blackburn Rovers secure a point at Queens Park Rangers - but results elsewhere saw Steve Kean's side end the day bottom of the Premier League.

Rangers came into the match on the back of a 6-0 defeat at near neighbours Fulham but responded well, dominating the majority of the first period.

QPR's early momentum paid dividends as they took the lead in the 16th minute through Heidar Helguson's deft cross-shot.

The striker's goal was the west Londoners' first at Loftus Road this season, but their joy was short-lived as Samba latched on to Jason Lowe's corner to put Kean's side level.

Wigan Athletic 1 Bolton Wanderers 3

An injury-time strike from Chris Eagles put the seal on a priceless second league victory of the season for Bolton Wanderers at the DW Stadium.

Owen Coyle knew nothing more than a win would ease the pressure swirling around his side after a miserable run of 11 losses in 12 league games stretching back to last season.

Nigel Reo-Coker gave the visitors the start they so badly needed when he prodded home in the fourth minute, then David Ngog netted shortly after Mohamed Diame's superb 40th-minute equaliser.

And after Bolton had failed to wrap it up when Ali Al Habsi saved Kevin Davies's 70th- minute penalty, Eagles made sure by firing home after a mistake by Antolin Alcaraz.

Roberto Martinez's Wigan have now lost five league games in a row.

Stoke City 2 Fulham 0

Late goals from Jon Walters and Rory Delap secured victory for Stoke City over Fulham at the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters hit the post through Delap and saw their own crossbar rattled by John Arne Riise before Walters broke the deadlock in the 80th minute, diverting Matthew Etherington's effort home.

Delap then doubled their advantage seven minutes later, nodding in an Etherington free-kick.

Stoke's deserved win continued their solid start to the campaign, Tony Pulis' side having now taken 12 points from their opening eight league fixtures to consolidate their position in the top half of the table.

Norwich City 3 Swansea City 1

Anthony Pilkington scored twice as Norwich City continued their impressive start to the season by easing past fellow top-flight newcomers Swansea City at Carrow Road.

Pilkington, a £2m summer signing from Huddersfield Town, opened the scoring after just 50 seconds before Russell Martin doubled the Canaries' lead soon after with a 12-yard header.

Danny Graham drilled home to pull one back for Swansea, but the Welshmen never looked like equalising and Pilkington sealed the win for the home side just after the hour when he swivelled neatly in the box before firing home from close range.