EPL: Joy for Man City, but frustration for Man United
London: Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday to move level with Premier League leaders Chelsea, while Radamel Falcao earned Manchester United a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
Manchester United's Ashley Young (left) jumps for the ball with Aston Villa's Matthew Lowton during their EPL match in Birmingham on Saturday. Pic/AFP
City were missing Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic due to injury, but they secured an eighth consecutive win in all competitions thanks to David Silva's second-half brace and a late Yaya Toure strike.
Victory left City level on 39 points with Chelsea, who remain top by virtue of a superior goal difference (+23 to +22) ahead of their trip to Stoke City on Monday.
"It was a very good win. A very good performance. I enjoyed the way the team worked the whole week — to work in a different way without strikers," said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
"I did think December is a key month to be in the fight for the title, and if you want to be involved you must be very near the top of the table."
United's fine run ends
United spurned a chance to close on Chelsea after dropping points for the first time in seven matches at Villa, who had Gabriel Agbonlahor sent off in the 65th minute for a foul on former teammate Ashley Young.
City's David Silva celebrates a goal on Saturday. Pic/Getty Images
The draw ended United's run of six straight wins and left Louis van Gaal's side seven points off the pace in third place, while West Ham United, Southampton and Tottenham all closed on them.
At the Etihad Stadium, City started with James Milner as an auxiliary striker and after growing into the game, the champions went ahead four minutes into the second half. From Fernandinho's pass, Pablo Zabaleta scuttled into the area before cutting the ball back for Silva, who beat Julian Speroni with the aid of a deflection off Scott Dann.
Silva claimed his second goal in the 61st minute, neatly steering home at the near post from Aleksandar Kolarov's left-wing centre.
Toure made the game safe for City in the 81st minute, collecting a square pass from Milner and slamming home left-footed at the near post.
Christian Benteke put Villa 1-0 up in the 18th minute at home against United by chesting down a deep free-kick, stepping inside Jonny Evans and curling a fine left-foot shot inside the left-hand post.
David de Gea produced a stunning save to tip a header from Benteke over the bar early in the second half, before Falcao met Young's cross with a 53rd-minute header to claim his first goal since October.