Manchester City yesterday recorded its biggest Premier League win of the season to climb above defending champion Chelsea into third spot.
“I think we played very well, we started well and pressed from the first minute,” City manager Roberto Mancini told Sky Sports. “We hope we continue to play very well, but sometimes it depends on the opponents.”
City has 56 points from 31 matches, while Chelsea has 55 from 30 games. Manchester United tops the league with 66 points from 31 matches and second-place Arsenal has 59 from 30.
In yesterday’s other game, Fulham eased its relegation worries in English soccer’s top league with a 3-0 win against Blackpool.
City took only nine minutes to move into the lead against Sunderland, Johnson firing a low shot past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after receiving the ball from Toure.
Tevez got his 19th league goal of the season after 15 minutes, squeezing a penalty past the outstretched hand of Mignolet. The Argentine forward had been brought down by Phil Bardsley.
Three goals in 11 second-half minutes then completed the victory.
A wayward pass by Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole presented the ball to Toure after 73 minutes and he lifted the ball over Mignolet for the fifth goal.
The goalkeeper made several other saves, including tipping the ball over from a Balotelli free kick in injury time.
Sunderland has now lost six of its last seven games, failing to score in four straight matches.
“The performance disappointed me more than surprised me, but I don’t want to make excuses -- we were simply second best in every department,” Sunderland manager Steve Bruce told Sky Sports. “We got our backsides well and truly kicked.”
At Craven Cottage, Bobby Zamora scored twice as Fulham moved six points clear of the relegation positions. The Cottagers are now 10th, ahead of Stoke and Sunderland on goal difference.
Seventh Home Win
The 30-year-old, making his first start since breaking a leg in September, netted after 23 and 28 minutes at Craven Cottage to secure Fulham’s seventh home league win of the season. Dickson Etuhu also scored.
Blackpool has lost eight of its last 11 matches and stands one point above the three-team relegation positions. West Ham, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan are in the bottom three.
Zamora, after three substitute appearances, came into the starting lineup alongside Moussa Dembele in attack.
Both were involved in a move after 16 minutes that almost led to an opening goal for Fulham, Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson forced to tip a Damien Duff shot onto a post.
Kingson then denied Chris Baird, but Zamora put Fulham ahead after 23 minutes. The striker intercepted a back-pass from James Beattie and ran toward goal before firing into the net.
Five minutes later, he headed past Kingson from a Danny Murphy free kick. Etuhu got a close-range goal in the 72nd minute.
He said that Fulham fans who don’t appreciate the statue can “go to hell,” the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Two days ago, Manchester United rallied to defeat West Ham 4-2, Newcastle beat Wolves 4-1, Chelsea tied 1-1 at Stoke, and Arsenal was held to a scoreless draw by Blackburn.
There were also no goals in the match between Wigan and Tottenham, Birmingham beat Bolton 2-1, Everton tied 2-2 against Aston Villa, and West Bromwich Albion won 2-1 against Liverpool.