Iheanacho sends Man City top of Premier League, Ighalo scores again


ihenacho dsaKelechi Iheanacho’s fortuitous stoppage-time goal gave Manchester City a 2-1 home win over managerless Swansea City on Saturday that provisionally sent Manuel Pellegrini’s side top in the Premier League.

Swansea, who sacked Garry Monk on Wednesday, looked to have earned a point when Bafetimbi Gomis scored a 90th-minute equaliser, only for Yaya Toure’s shot to hit team-mate Iheanacho and loop in two minutes later.

City move top on goal difference, above previous leaders Leicester City — who host champions Chelsea on Monday — but could be joined on 32 points by Manchester United, who visit Bournemouth later on Saturday.

“I think the three points were very important, more than the way we played,” said Pellegrini. “I knew it would be difficult because we had three or four players who couldn’t recover from the last game.

“Swansea played very well and it’s not the way we want to win. Now we have a week to recover — we have played too many games with 13 or 14 players.”

With first-team coach Alan Curtis at the helm, Swansea made three changes at a rain-lashed Etihad Stadium, Angel Rangel, Federico Fernandez and Jack Cork replacing Kyle Naughton, Kyle Bartley and Gomis.

Cork set up an early sight of goal for Wayne Routledge, whose shot was blocked by Joe Hart, and the England goalkeeper also had to push an effort from Gylfi Sigurdsson over the bar.

But after Swansea captain Ashley Williams had diverted a Jesus Navas shot over the bar, Wilfried Bony put the hosts in front in the 26th minute, meeting Navas’s left-wing corner with an emphatic near-post header.

The Ivory Coast striker, who left Swansea for City in January, did not celebrate.

Both sides had chances thereafter, with Andre Ayew heading over for Swansea and Sigurdsson twice testing Hart, while Toure, the newly crowned BBC African Footballer of the Year, went close on several occasions.

– Ighalo on target again –

Sigurdsson thought he had equalised in the 84th minute, but his driven effort was contentiously ruled out as Gomis, on as a substitute, had collided with Hart in the build-up.

Swansea did level minutes later, Gomis running onto Fernandez’s slide-rule pass and slamming a shot past Hart at his near post, only for City to wrest back the advantage in the cruellest fashion.

Toure took aim with his left foot from the right-hand edge of the area and the ball struck 19-year-old Nigerian substitute Iheanacho on the back before spinning past Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Swansea, who have won only once in 12 league games, remain a point above the relegation places.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace drew level on points with fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, who host Newcastle United on Sunday, after Yohan Cabaye’s 38th-minute tap-in earned them a 1-0 home win over Southampton.

Everton remain in ninth place after squandering a chance to close on the leading sides in a 1-1 draw at Norwich City.

Romelu Lukaku headed in a cross from Gerard Deulofeu in the 15th minute to put Everton ahead, but the visitors spurned a string of chances and Wes Hoolahan scrambled home a Norwich equaliser early in the second period.

Promoted Watford moved up to seventh place, four points below the Champions League places, after winning 1-0 at Sunderland to register three consecutive Premier League wins for the first time.

Odion Ighalo claimed the game’s only goal in the fourth minute — his 10th of the campaign.

In the day’s other match, West Ham United drew 0-0 at home to Stoke City, who hit the bar through Marko Arnautovic.

 


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