Manchester City level with leaders Manchester United after 4-0 win at Blackburn
Big-money signing Sergio Aguero injured before City score four second-half goals
Manchester United win 2-0 at home to Norwich to stay ahead on goal difference
Newcastle up to third place while Liverpool win controversial Merseyside derby
Manchester City shrugged off the Carlos Tevez controversy to stay in contention for the English Premier League lead with a 4-0 rout of struggling Blackburn on Saturday.
Roberto Mancini’s men remained level on points with leaders Manchester United, who struggled to a 2-0 win over promoted Norwich, but the victory was tempered by an injury to Sergio Aguero.
The striker has made a huge impact since being signed to replace Tevez in pre-season, scoring eight league goals, but he went off with a groin problem in the first half.
With his fellow Argentine suspended after refusing to come on as a substitute in the midweek Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich, Aguero started the match alongside the recalled Mario Balotelli.
The Italian, who missed the trip to Germany, was given the nod ahead of Edin Dzeko – another eight-goal man this season, but another City player in trouble after having to apologize to Mancini following his angry reaction when he was substituted in Bavaria.
After a scoreless first half, Balotelli hit the post before young England winger Adam Johnson broke the deadlock with a superb curled effort in the 56th minute.
Balotelli made it 2-0 three minutes later, then Aguero’s replacement Samir Nasri settled it with 17 minutes to play on the counter-attack as home fans called for Rovers manager Steve Kean to be sacked.
Montenegro defender Stefan Savic headed in Nasri’s late corner to score the 20-year-old’s first goal for City and leave Blackburn second from bottom with four points from seven games.
Rivals Manchester United also moved onto 19 points after a victory at home to 10th-placed Norwich that manager Alex Ferguson described as “gritty.”
The visitors missed several chances, and United made them pay as midfielder Anderson scored with a rare header in the 68th minute and young substitute Danny Welbeck added another with three minutes to play.
“Our home record has been fantastic for two seasons now,” said Ferguson, who made seven changes after United’s 3-3 midweek draw with Basel in the Champions League.
“This was not a good performance but we were gritty and we never gave in. That is a fantastic quality to have.”
Striker Wayne Rooney returned from injury, hitting the bar late on, and should be fit for England’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro on Friday along with winger Ashley Young – who missed the match with an ankle injury.
With Chelsea traveling to Bolton on Sunday, Newcastle took the chance to claim third place after a contentious 2-1 victory at Wolverhampton.
Striker Demba Ba followed up last weekend’s hat-trick with a 17th-minute header from a corner, and Jonas Gutierrez doubled the lead before halftime.
Wolves were denied a penalty when referee Mark Halsey wrongly ruled that Jamie O’Hara was fouled outside the area, then Steven Fletcher pulled a goal back in the 88th minute.
Mick McCarthy’s team were again denied when Kevin Doyle’s header was controversially ruled out by the assistant official, who said the ball had already gone out of play.
Fifth-placed Liverpool joined Chelsea on 13 points with a 2-0 victory in the Merseyside derby that left Everton manager David Moyes fuming.
Young midfielder Jack Rodwell was sent off midway through the first half for a sliding challenge on Luis Suarez, despite clearly making contact with the ball before sending the Uruguay striker tumbling.
“The sending-off ruined the game. You get lots of questions from people asking about derbies, tackles and sendings-off but that wasn’t even a bad tackle,” Moyes said after ref Martin Atkinson handed out his 15th red card since the start of last season.
Suarez won a penalty before halftime, but Dirk Kuyt’s attempt was saved by Tom Howard.
Striker Andy Carroll put Liverpool ahead in the 71st minute from Jose Enrique’s cross after Kuyt ducked out of the way, with the club-record $50 million signing scoring his first league goal this season.
Suarez sealed it with eight to play with his fourth league goal this season, leaving unhappy Everton in 11th place.
Unbeaten Aston Villa moved up to sixth with a 2-0 victory that condemned Wigan to a fifth successive defeat in all competitions.
Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the first-half opener and set up fellow striker Darren Bent for the second after the break.
Sunderland came from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw at home to West Brom, who scored within five minutes through James Morrison and Shane Long.
New Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner scored his first for the club since leaving Arsenal with a deflected shot in the 24th minute, and Egypt winger Ahmed Elmohamady did the same when he leveled two minutes later with a header.