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City soar as United slip up

Published: Tuesday 28 December 2010, 23.28CET
Mario Balotelli hit a hat-trick as Manchester City FC beat Aston Villa FC 4-0 to end the day level on points with leaders Manchester United FC who drew with Birmingham City FC.
City soar as United slip up
Mario Balotelli (right) is congratulated by Patrick Vieira after scoring his second goal ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 28 December 2010, 23.28CET

City soar as United slip up

Mario Balotelli hit a hat-trick as Manchester City FC beat Aston Villa FC 4-0 to end the day level on points with leaders Manchester United FC who drew with Birmingham City FC.

Lee Bowyer's late goal earned Birmingham City FC a dramatic point at home to Manchester United FC who were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw, though it was still enough to take them back to the top of the Premier League.

United looked on course for victory courtesy of Dimitar Berbatov's 58th-minute strike – his eighth goal in United's past three Premier League games – and the Bulgarian almost had a second soon after when his shot clipped the post. United looked in command but Birmingham hit back in the 89th-minute when Bowyer slid in to score.

United had fallen a point behind Manchester City FC after their rivals had beaten Aston Villa FC 4-0 earlier in the day, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side narrowly reclaimed top spot on goal difference after stretching their unbeaten start to the season to 18 games. It was the seventh time in eight games United had drawn away from home this season. United have two games in hand on City with Arsenal three points back in third.

Earlier Mario Balotelli scored a hat-trick as City briefly went top with a comfortable win at home to Villa. The outcome was largely decided before the break as City jumped to a 3-0 lead. Balotelli opened the scoring from the penalty spot on eight minutes and after Jolean Lescott hit the second five minutes later, the 20-year-old added the third on 27 minutes.

The Italian completed his hat-trick with another penalty ten minutes after the break. Aston Villa have won just one of their past six league games and are now only two points clear of the relegation zone and one ahead of the their rivals Birmingham.

Tottenham Hotspur FC took full advantage of Chelsea FC's 3-1 loss at Arsenal FC on Monday to move above their London rivals into fourth place courtesy of a 2-0 win at home to Newcastle United FC. Aaron Lennon put Spurs in front on 57 minutes and though Younes Kaboul was sent off on 65 minutes Gareth Bale secured the points with nine minutes to play.

Elsewhere Fulham FC eased their relegation fears with a 2-0 win at Stoke City FC, Blackpool FC won 2-0 at Sunderland AFC, Blackburn Rovers FC were 3-1 winners at West Bromwich Albion FC and West Ham United FC drew 1-1 with Everton FC.

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