Man City wins to keep United at bay in title race

Published February 12, 2012

| Associated Press

First-place Manchester City won 1-0 at Aston Villa on Sunday on Joleon Lescott's goal in the 63rd minute, maintaining its two-point lead over Manchester United in the Premier League.

Lescott hooked in a shot from close range after Gareth Barry nodded down a deep corner from James Milner.

City is trying to win the league title for the first time since 1968. United beat Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

In the day's other game, Wolverhampton Wanderers dropped into the relegation zone by losing 5-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion. Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie scored a hat trick for the visitors, who climbed above Villa into 14th place — eight points clear of last place.

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MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo's sixth hat trick of the season led Real Madrid to a 4-2 victory over Levante to extend the Spanish leader's advantage over defending champion Barcelona to 10 points.

Gustavo Cabral put visiting Levante ahead in the fifth minute, and Madrid struggled to respond until Vicente Iborra's red card set up Ronaldo's penalty kick before halftime. Ronaldo headed home his second goal in the 50th, then scored from outside the area seven minutes later and on a shot that took a wicked dip over goalkeeper Gustavo Munua.

Another defensive lapse from Madrid allowed Arouna Kone to head in Levante's second in the 63rd, but Ronaldo fed Karim Benzema to curl in Madrid's fourth minutes later.

Ronaldo's final goal, his league-leading 27th and 34th overall, was the 4,000th at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Madrid became the first team to net 75 times in 22 rounds as it closes in on its first league title in four years.

Ronaldo has 15 career hat tricks: 13 in Liga Liga, one in the Copa del Rey and one in the Premier League for Manchester United.

Third-place Valencia beat Sporting Gijon 4-0 for its first Spanish league victory in nearly two months, while last-place Zaragoza got a boost by beating Espanyol 2-0 for its first win since October. Malaga beat Mallorca 3-1 and Rayo Vallecano won against Getafe 2-0.

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ROME (AP) — Inter Milan lost 1-0 at home to last-place Novara in the Italian league despite having a man advantage for the final 10 minutes.

Andrea Caracciolo scored in the 56th minute to inflict more misery on Inter, which lost 4-0 at Roma last weekend.

After Novara's Ivan Radovanovic was ejected, Inter came closer toward the finish. Wesley Sneijder hit the crossbar, but the team failed to score and left the field to jeers. This was Inter's fifth straight game in all competitions without victory.

Catania beat Genoa 4-0 and Lecce drew 0-0 at Atalanta.

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BERLIN (AP) — Jose Paolo Guerrero's late strike was enough to give Hamburger SV a 1-0 win at Cologne and overtake the home team for 10th place in the Bundesliga.

Guerrero scored in the 88th minute after Mladen Petric sent the ball over the Cologne defense for the Peru striker to shrug off a defender and chip past goalkeeper Michael Rensing. It was Guerrero's sixth goal of the season.

It was the first — and only — goal of the day in the Bundesliga. Augsburg and Nuremberg played a 0-0 draw, a result that suits neither team in the struggle to avoid relegation.

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PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's lead in the French league was trimmed to one point after it was held to a 0-0 draw at struggling Nice.

Although PSG remains unbeaten under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, it showed little creativity in a scrappy game against a resilient Nice team that gained an important point in its attempt to avert relegation. PSG is one point ahead of Montpellier.

Earlier, Ludovic Obraniak scored the winner in injury time against his former team, giving Bordeaux a wild 5-4 win at defending champion Lille. Lille stays in third place despite the loss but is now 10 points behind PSG.

Saint-Etienne won 1-0 at Toulouse on a 71st-minute goal by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored three goals for Gabon at the African Cup of Nations.

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — Dries Mertens made a first-half penalty kick for PSV Eindhoven, which beat De Graafschap 4-1 and returned to first place in the Dutch league.

Mertens' 15th goal of the season came in the eighth minute after he was fouled by Vito Wormgoor. Ola Toivonen headed in Jeremain Lens's cross in the 26th to make it 2-0. Tim Matavz scored three minutes later before Lens added another goal in the 43rd. Gil Vermouth replied in the 52nd for De Graafschap.

PSV leads AZ Alkmaar on goal difference, both teams at 45 points. SC Heerenveen and Feyenoord have 40 points, one more than FC Twente after winning Saturday. Twente has a game in hand.

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BRUSSELS (AP) — American midfielder Mixx Diskerud dressed for the first time for Ghent since he was acquired on a loan from Norway's Stabaek. But he didn't get into the match, which Ghent lost 3-1 at home to Brugge.

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