United on title brink as City collapse
Tottenham Hotspur sent the Premier League title towards Manchester United with a stunning 3-1 defeat of Manchester City on Sunday, on a day when Liverpool striker Luis Suarez created controversy once again.
A three-goal salvo in the space of seven second-half minutes saw Spurs roar back from behind to overwhelm defending champions City and revitalise their own push for Champions League qualification.
City's defeat preserved United's 13-point lead at the top of the table and means that Alex Ferguson's side can secure an unprecedented 20th league crown if they win at home to Aston Villa on Monday.
It also left Spurs just one point beneath fourth-place Chelsea, who were prevented from reclaiming third place by a 97th-minute equaliser from Suarez in a 2-2 draw at Anfield.
However, Suarez had earlier appeared to bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm in an incident that looks likely to yield retrospective punishment from the Football Association.
At White Hart Lane, Spurs struck three times in the last 15 minutes through Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale to floor City, who had led through Samir Nasri since the fifth minute.
City manager Roberto Mancini was at a loss to explain his side's collapse, telling Sky Sports: "We had everything in order. It is strange. It is not a correct result, but congratulations to Tottenham for the win.
"The championship was finished three or four weeks ago. Manchester United deserved to win it."
As well as trailing Chelsea by a point, Tottenham are now just two points behind third-place Arsenal and have a game in hand on their north London rivals.
On Spurs' fightback, Bale said: "The gaffer (manager) told me to move out wide and it worked out well. Our opening goal gave us and the crowd belief.
"We showed our character. The club is moving forward every year. The players want to play in the Champions League, and we showed that today."
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas recalled Bale after an ankle injury and the hosts started the game in positive fashion, but it was City who drew first blood.
Carlos Tevez's deft pass released James Milner and from the Englishman's cross, Nasri steered a volley past the lunge of defender Kyle Walker on the Spurs goal-line.
Nasri and Tevez both went close before halftime but they were unable to extend City's lead and in the 75th minute Dempsey converted a glorious outside-of-the-foot cross from Bale to equalise.
Defoe put Spurs ahead four minutes later, jinking inside Vincent Kompany and lashing a shot into the bottom-right corner, before Bale added a third with a cool, chipped finish in the 82nd minute.
At Anfield, interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez was granted a warm reception on his return to the club he led to glory in the 2005 Champions League.
The Spaniard has failed to win over the fans of his current club, but he saw Chelsea take a 26th-minute lead when Oscar scored with a near-post header from a Juan Mata corner.
Liverpool introduced Daniel Sturridge at halftime and the former Chelsea player had an immediate impact, hitting the post from 20 yards and then netting an equaliser in the 52nd minute.
Suarez created the goal with a sumptuous cross but the Uruguayan gifted Chelsea an opportunity to restore their lead five minutes later by inexplicably handling a high ball inside the area.
Eden Hazard duly converted the ensuing penalty and Suarez sparked fresh acrimony when he appeared to sink his teeth into Ivanovic's upper arm during a penalty-box tussle with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Referee Kevin Friend did not see the incident and Suarez finished the game by heading a dramatic equaliser past Cech in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said he was not in a position to discuss Suarez's behaviour.
He told Sky Sports: "The only comment I can make at this stage is that we'll review it, we'll look at the video, and then we'll make a comment."
It is not the first time Suarez has been accused of biting an opponent. He was banned for seven games in 2010 after biting PSV Eindhoven player Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax in a Dutch league game.