Premier League - Man City lose top spot with Swansea defeat
Manchester City surrendered top spot in the Premier League to Manchester United. losing 1-0 to a late Luke Moore goal at Swansea City.
Moore scored just four minutes after his introduction as a substitute and, although Micah Richards had a potential equaliser ruled out for offside in the final minute of normal time, Swansea clung on to deal Roberto Mancini's side a damaging defeat.
Scott Sinclair had even failed to score a penalty after seven minutes and Manchester City were distinctly unimpressive as Swansea ensured Mancini's side have scored only two goals in their past five away games.
With United winning 2-0 at home to West Brom, Manchester City's troublesome away form saw them knocked down to second place after defeat in Wales ended their four-game winning streak in the Premier League and made it just two wins in eight on their travels.
Against a settled Swansea side, who nonetheless replaced the suspended Nathan Dyer with Wayne Routledge, injuries forced Manchester City to utilise Stefan Savic and Kolo Toure as a central defensive partnership for the first time in the Premier League as they made five changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
Comfortable in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation and confident in their ability to adhere to their attractive, short-passing style against a side so potent as the league leaders, Swansea were the slicker side in the first half as they stroked the ball around on a bright and sunny afternoon at the Liberty Stadium.
With Manchester City looking lethargic when not in possession, Swansea were allowed to impose themselves on the game and should have translated that dominance into a lead as early as six minutes in when winning a slightly contentious penalty.
Though Routledge's trailing leg made only light contact with Joe Hart as he touched the ball to the side of the onrushing Manchester City keeper, the winger was knocked off balance and a spot-kick was awarded. However, Hart guessed right from Sinclair's weak effort as the forward failed to score for the first time in five opportunities from the spot this season.
Quickly shaking off the disappointment, Swansea continued to monopolise possession and keep the visitors quiet, though Mario Balotelli was a sporadic threat, the striker taking a clever touch to evade his marker in the box before being blocked off by Angel Rangel and then hammering a shot well off target from a ball over the top from Samir Nasri.
Though Swansea were hardly placing Hart under siege, with Danny Graham enjoying a rare chance when spinning and shooting wide following a quick pass from Joe Allen, the accomplished way they used their 59 per cent possession made Manchester City look sluggish by comparison in midfield and Mancini waited just 38 minutes before instigating a change of approach, with Gareth Barry clearly angry to be substituted in favour of Sergio Aguero.
The tweak worked as Manchester City finished the half on top. Though any glimpses they had of goal were largely restricted to skirmishes from corners - with Yaya Toure, Nigel de Jong and David Silva all threatening - they managed to press Swansea back and disrupt the home side's flow as Silva began to exert more of an influence.
The transformation continued after the break as Aguero grew into the game. The Argentina international, who had started 23 of his 25 previous Premier League appearances, shot narrowly wide when collecting an angled pass from Balotelli early in the second half.
Swansea continued to play their natural game yet found chances hard to come by, with Routledge bending one effort wide of the far post following a short corner and Manchester City just about scrambling the ball behind from a dangerous cross that almost sneaked in.
Instead it was the visitors from Manchester who applied the more persistent pressure. Nasri tested Michel Vorm with a low effort following a clever pass from Yaya Toure and while Balotelli was hard done by when referee Lee Mason failed to penalise Allen for a trip on the Italian, sparking a furious reaction from Mancini and his players, the initial contact was just outside the box.
With United winning at home to West Brom at Old Trafford, their city rivals continued to push forward in search of a winner as Micah Richards collected a short pass from Silva, spun and fired in a low effort from a tight angle that caused Vorm to spill before smothering the ball.
Swansea made a change on 79 minutes when Graham was replaced by Moore and the substitute, who had scored only one league goal all season, put his side ahead inside four minutes. Swansea pounced after a mistake in possession from the visitors and after constructing a nice passing move saw Routledge's cross pick out Moore, who headed home.
City's response was frantic - Balotelli and Kolo Toure forcing Vorm into two good saves - and Richards thought he had equalised with just seconds remaining of normal time, only for the assistant to rightly give him offside when heading in from Gael Clichy's cross.
Manchester City could have conceded a second when Swansea caught Hart upfield from a late corner, but a 1-0 margin of victory was sufficient to ensure a change at the top of the table.