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Premier League round-up

There was more than a little drama as Man City closed on the title and QPR left it late at home to Stoke.

Toure the hero for City; United ease past Swans; Villa hold Spurs; late show for QPR; Trotters throw it away

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson concedes neighbours City have 'probably two' hands on the Premier League trophy as the penultimate weekend of the season ended precisely as it had started with both clubs locked at the top, but with Roberto Mancini's side boasting a significantly superior goal difference. On a day when Manchester City needed a big performance on their travels to Newcastle United it was Yaya Toure who led by example as his exquisitely taken brace was enough to silence an expectant St James' Park, while United beat Swansea by the same 2-0 scoreline in the day's late kick-off. Alan Pardew's UEFA Champions League hopefuls threatened intermittently to do Manchester United a favour but few would deny Mancini's champions elect were full value for a three-point haul that takes them to the cusp of ending a 44-year wait for a league title. Aston Villa are now all but certain of hosting top flight football after holding Tottenham to a draw in the Midlands, while QPR left it late to grab a hugely significant win over Stoke City. Bolton let a two-goal lead slip at home to West Brom to drop two precious points, while Fulham won the day's only mid-table affair in edging past Sunderland. At Molineux a stalemate was played out as Everton could not find a way past already down Wolverhampton Wanderers. The best chance of a feisty first half in the North East that saw five players yellow carded fell to Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry, whose low drive was cleared off the line after the mother of all scrambles in Newcastle's box. After the interval City repeatedly knocked at the door but it was only when Mancini made the big call to take off Samir Nasri for Nigel de Jong to allow Toure greater licence to drive on did a goal arrive. And when it did it was a peach. After exchanging passes with the ever bright Sergio Aguero on 70 minutes the giant Ivorian showed wonderful composure in bending an inch perfect effort from the edge of the box beyond Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul's dive. His second was from much closer but no less a finish when he rounded off a fine counter-attack with genuine élan in clipping a high effort past Krul from Gael Clichy's low cross, after City had ruthlessly made inroads on the break from a Newcastle corner. The title is now very much City's to lose as they hold an eight-goal advantage over their neighbours. Manchester United went into their home clash with Swansea City in the knowledge only a glut of goals would cause their neighbours any real consternation but had to settle for a polished if hardly prolific 2-0 victory. Brendan Rodgers' side held out for just shy of half an hour only to be opened up when Antonio Valencia skipped past Neil Taylor to pull the ball back for Michael Carrick. The Euro 2012 hopeful's strike was on target but Paul Scholes was on hand to make sure with a lovely flick from close range. Ferguson's charges did not have to wait long to extend their advantage as Ashley Young's cute angled right-footed daisy cutter beat Michel Vorm at his near post after Wayne Rooney had seen his snapshot blocked. After half-time Swansea showed flashes of intent of their own but a lack of decisiveness in the final third ensured David de Gea was rarely tested, while Rooney pulled arguably United's best chance to add a third wide of Vorm's far post. Pre-match preparations had hardly been ideal for Alex McLeish leading into Aston Villa's game with Tottenham as a section of the home support placed an advert in the Birmingham Mail questioning the wisdom of the beleaguered Scot's appointment. It was then with considerable relief that a nervy atmosphere bubbling inside Villa Park was at least partially relaxed when ten minutes before the break Ciaran Clarke let fly with a speculative drive from 35-yards that took a massive deflection off the head of William Gallas to leave Brad Friedel wrong-footed. Shay Given showed he's still one of the best around with a wonder stop to deny Gareth Bale just before half-time but could do nothing to prevent Emmanuel Adebayor from levelling from the penalty spot on the hour mark after Richard Dunne had brought down a surging Sandro. Prior to the on-loan hit-man's equaliser it had looked likely to be a long afternoon for Harry Redknapp's side when on 49 minutes they were reduced to ten men after Danny Rose rightly saw red for a reckless lunge on Alan Hutton. Tottenham had decent opportunities to win it despite a numerical disadvantage but Villa stood strong to earn the point that all but secures their Premier League status. Roy Hodgson's penultimate game in charge of West Bromwich Albion ended in a draw at the Reebok Stadium that gave Bolton's survival hopes a real kick in the teeth. The tension inside the stadium was palpable when in the 24th minute Mark Davies' surge into West Brom's box was curtailed by a combination of Youssouf Mulumbu and Keith Andrews' desperate challenges. After referee Keith Friend pointed to the spot Martin Petrov has a model of composure when from 12 yards he beat Ben Foster with a well struck effort to the goalkeeper's right. Both sides were guilty of lacking quality in the final third after the interval before on 72 minutes Bolton eased into a two-goal lead in the most fortuitous circumstances. When Petrov made inroads down the left it looked dangerous until Liam Ridgewell stepped in front of his man to clear - straight into the face of team-mate Billy Jones who could do nothing but divert the ball past Ben Foster. Bolton are not near the foot of the table for their ability to hold onto a lead though and thus it was little surprise when Chris Brunt made for the proverbial nail-biting finish when he pulled one back for West Brom with 15 minutes remaining from just inside the box. It is a credit to the spirit Hodgson has instilled in his side that a game which effectively meant little to his charges saw them fight to the death for a point and it's one they duly won when in the dying embers James Morrison converted from close range after substitute Simon Cox found him at the far post from a deft delivery from the right. A largely insipid affair at Loftus Road saw Queen Park Rangers leave it until the 89th minute to give their bid to stay a Premier League club a massive fillip as Stoke were seen off. It's fair to say Djibril Cisse owes his manager Mark Hughes a goal having been sent-off twice since arriving in the capital in January and that is precisely what he delivered a minute from time. After Stoke failed to clear a set-piece, from Anton Ferdinand's flick, substitute Cisse was in the right place to prod home a priceless goal from no more than a couple of yards.A bit of a dead rubber at Craven Cottage was surprisingly entertaining as Fulham claimed a 2-1 defeat of Sunderland in West London. Martin Jol's side were full value for a lead they established on 12 minutes when Lee Cattermole was punished for some clumsy tackling by Clint Dempsey's sumptuous bending free-kick from fully 25-yards that clocked up his 50th Premier League goal. The 22nd of an outstanding campaign for the American was a beauty as his dipping effort beat the wall and then a crestfallen Simon Mignolet in Sunderland's goal. There was much to admire about Dempsey's strike and perhaps even more so about David Bardsley's leveller before half-time. A bright move involving Jack Colback and Dong-Won Ji culminated in the latter laying off smartly into the path of Bardsley, who from a full 25-yards arched a low drive past Mark Schwarzer. It was a parity that would last just a solitary minute as in the 35th of an engrossing first half Moussa Dembele ended a 28-game goalless run when he was allowed time to advance with the ball before his sweetly struck shot from distance took a telling deflection off Michael Turner to beat Mignolet. The second period failed to live up to what preceded it as Fulham stood firm to win three points that takes them above Liverpool into eighth place in the table. Everton travelled to already relegated Wolves with only Merseyside bragging rights to play for and it told as profligacy infected their side. The Toffees will feel they did enough in a one-sided first period to claim a maximum haul but after the break Wolves improved to win a rare point for interim chief Terry Connor.

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