Manchester City took over at the top of the Premier League table after winning 2-0 against Newcastle United in a tempestuous encounter at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
There was controversy, too, as Liverpool beat Stoke City 5-3 in an enthralling match to return to the top four and claim its first league victory at the Britannia Stadium at the sixth attempt.
In the earlier match, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo claimed City’s goals, but the match’s defining incident occurred mid-way through the first half when Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote had a goal contentiously ruled out for offside.
Going to the top
It was City’s sixth consecutive league win and lifted it above Chelsea at the summit, although it will lose its hold on first place if Arsenal win at Aston Villa on Monday.
“It was a very difficult game and it’s a very big result as we know it’s a tough place to come and win,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who also lost Samir Nasri to what he described as a “serious” knee injury.
Bidding to avenge a 4-0 defeat at City on the season’s opening weekend, Newcastle began at a high tempo, but it took the visitors less than eight minutes to make the breakthrough.
David Silva released Aleksandar Kolarov with an incisive pass down the inside-left channel and the Serbian left-back delivered a low cross that was clipped home by Dzeko.
The controversy arrived in the 34th minute when Tiote thrashed a superb shot past Hart from the edge of the box, only for Jones to disallow the goal after consulting his assistant, Stephen Child.
Hart kept Newcastle at bay in the second half before City midfielder Nasri had to be stretchered off following a wild, knee-high foul by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
After Fernandinho had hit the bar with a header, Negredo sealed victory for City in the fifth minute of stoppage time when he ran the ball into the net after seeing an initial attempt blocked by Tim Krul.
In the Liverpool-Stoke match, a fifth-minute Ryan Shawcross own goal and an opportunistic Luis Suarez effort put the visitors 2-0 up, only for the home side to draw level before half-time through Liverpool old boys Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam.
Steven Gerrard restored Liverpool’s lead from the penalty spot in the 51st minute. Daniel Sturridge made his return from a seven-week injury lay-off as a substitute and he neatly teed up Suarez for his second goal — and 22nd of the campaign — with 19 minutes to play.
Jon Walters gave Stoke hope by squeezing a shot past Mignolet in the 85th minute, but Sturridge beat Jack Butland at the second attempt two minutes later to finally put a breathless game to bed.
United wins finally
Meanwhile on Saturday, Manchester United lifted the gloom around Old Trafford by beating Swansea 2-0, ending a three-match losing run that pushed the champion to the brink of a crisis.
The relief was clear inside the iconic stadium after Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck scored second-half goals to revive a season that was in danger of derailing under new manager David Moyes.
The results: Newcastle United 0 lost to Manchester City 2 (Dzeko 8, Negredo 90+5); Stoke City 3 (Crouch 39, Adam 45, Walters 85) lost Liverpool 5 (Shawcross 5-og, Suarez 32, 71, Gerrard 51-pen, Sturridge 87). Saturday: Manchester United 2 (Valencia 47, Welbeck 59) bt Swansea City 0. — Agencies