City prevail in thriller

Football English Premier League:Van Persie inspires Man United to 2-0 victory

Edin Dzeko shone to give 10-man Manchester City a battling 4-3 victory at Norwich City in the English Premier League, but leaders Manchester United also won as own goals and more controversial refereeing marked the last Saturday of 2012.

United maintained their seven-point advantage over City at the top of the league table after Gareth McAuley turned the ball into his own net and substitute Robin van Persie netted in a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at a sodden Old Trafford.

City striker Dzeko scored twice in the first four minutes and another of his strikes was credited as an own goal by goalkeeper Mark Bunn at Norwich where Samir Nasri's 44th-minute red card had threatened the champions’ dominance. “We played fantastic for 25 minutes and should have scored three or four.

I don’t know why (Nasri was sent-off) as the linesman was there and I don’t know what he saw. We saw the video, both players touch heads,” Roberto Mancini said.

Spurs moved third following a 2-1 comeback win at Sunderland where an apoplectic Gareth Bale was again booked for diving while fourth-bottom Aston Villa lost their third on the bounce in a 3-0 home defeat by Wigan Athletic.

Ten-man Stoke City were facing a first home loss since February but a superb late Cameron Jerome strike secured a 3-3 draw with struggling Southampton and Reading pulled themselves away from last spot with a 1-0 home win over West Ham United.
Swansea City shrugged off the injury absence of top scorer Michu to triumph 2-1 at Fulham where stand-in striker Danny Graham grabbed the opener.

Leaders United started with Van Persie on the bench and had Wayne Rooney out injured for a game that was nearly called off before kick-off because of persistent rain.

Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa made his comeback from injury but it was another returnee, winger Ashley Young, who provided the cross for McAuley to inadvertently score on nine minutes.

Alex Ferguson's side have been consistently leaking goals, only prevailing 4-3 over Newcastle United on Wednesday thanks to a last-minute goal, but they just about held on to a clean sheet before Van Persie eased fan nerves in the last minute. After 20 of 38 games, United have 49 points to City’s 42 but Mancini will be glad his champions did not slip further behind after playing with 10 men for over a half at Carrow Road.

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