LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City restored an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Huddersfield Town, while Everton’s season went from bad to worse following a toothless 4-1 defeat at Southampton on Sunday.
Huddersfield appeared on course to earne an impressive point against City but Raheem Sterling bundled home a fortunate 84th-minute winner for the visitors after Sergio Aguero had earlier converted a penalty to cancel out Nicolas Otamendi’s own goal.
With a 12th victory in 13 games, Pep Guardiola’s City have made the best ever start to a Premier League season and lead second-placed rivals Manchester United by eight points.
Southampton’s Charlie Austin scored twice as they coasted to victory over managerless Everton, while Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez scored a 92nd-minute winner as they climbed into the top four with a 1-0 victory at stubborn Burnley.
City did not sweep aside Huddersfield as many expected, but the manner of their post-match celebrations illustrated how important victory was on a winter’s evening in Yorkshire.
They may have had many more eye-catching performances this season, but Sunday’s victory was typical of title-winning sides.
A rapidly-maturing Sterling, who has scored 12 times in 18 games this season in all competitions, won the penalty that led to Aguero’s equaliser and was in the right place at the right time late on to score after Gabriel Jesus was denied.
“Today was a game that epitomised the Premier League - winter is here, it’s colder, it’s harder to move the ball, they defended well,” said City captain Vincent Kompany after his side reached 37 points from a possible 39.
“I feel the team deserved the win, we kept at it, even being 1-0 down we believed.”
United are second on 29 points after a 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday followed by Chelsea (26), who drew 1-1 at Liverpool (23), Arsenal (25) and Tottenham Hotspur (24).
Everton have scored just 13 league goals since the departure of striker Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United in the close season, while the 28 they have conceded is the most of any side in the top flight this term.
On the south coast, Dusan Tadic gave Southampton a deserved lead with a neat finish in the 18th minute before Everton equalised when Gylfi Sigurdsson’s long-range effort went in despite hitting the crossbar twice and the post once.
Austin restored the home side’s lead with a close-range header in the 52nd minute before adding a near carbon-copy second to double the advantage six minutes later.
Steven Davies added a fourth with a superb effort late on as Everton’s despondent players capitulated after the break.
The Toffees, who sit two points above the relegation zone with 12 points, have now won only once under caretaker manager David Unsworth.
”I take responsibility, but we all have to as well,“ said former Everton defender Unsworth. ”We’re in a tough place and things have to change quickly.
”Confidence is as low as it has ever been. The club has to decide (on a new manager) and the sooner that happens the better. The players need this resolving.
“What I see is a happy squad but I’d rather have an unhappy squad that’s winning. I want what’s best for the club and I hope the players do too.”
After top-four contenders Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool failed to win on Saturday, Arsenal capitalised but were indebted to Sanchez’s nerveless late penalty against Burnley.
Arsenal have now won three successive games against the Lancashire club with goals on or after the 90th minute.
”In the first half we didn’t find our game, they stopped us from playing very well,“ said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. In the second half it was a question of the final ball and patience, not making a mistake at the back,”
Asked about the late penalty decision, the Frenchman said: ”From outside it looked 100 percent (a penalty).
And regarding the battle for Champions League qualifying places, he added: “It’s early, (the top four) changes from one week to another. We wanted to win away from home and we did it. Let’s focus on the next one.”
Reporting by Tom Hayward; editing by Ken Ferris