City rebounds to rout Spurs

Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling (2nd R) celebrates with teammate Jesus (R) after scoring his side third goal against Tottenham during their English Premier League match at Wembley Stadium, London, Saturday. — EPA

LONDON — Leader Manchester City shrugged off a bitterly disappointing week to beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Wembley Saturday and move to within three points of sealing the Premier League title.

City, which was deprived of wrapping up the title in dream fashion last weekend when it lost at home to Manchester United and was then knocked out of the Champions League 5-1 on aggregate by Liverpool Tuesday, was two up after 25 minutes as it hit back with a vengeance.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after Vincent Kompany’s long pass opened up Tottenham’s defense.

Ilkay Gundogan slotted home a penalty three minutes later after Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris raced out of his goal and upended Raheem Sterling though television replays suggested his wild tackle was just outside the area.

Christian Eriksen’s goal shortly before halftime offered fourth-placed Tottenham a route back into the game but Sterling lashed home from close range in the 72nd minute to deflate the hosts who had threatened a comeback.

City may well have to wait another week to start celebrating a third title in seven seasons although it could happen as soon as Sunday in the unlikely event of Manchester United losing at home to bottom club West Bromwich Albion.

It could also happen if United loses to Bournemouth in midweek but manager Pep Guardiola said he hoped it could be in front of the home fans against Swansea City next weekend.

“We will try hard to be champions in front of our fans at the Etihad Stadium because they deserve it,” Guardiola said.

Tottenham, which had gone 14 matches unbeaten in the league since losing 4-1 at City in December, is seven points above fifth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification.

Guardiola praised the mentality of his team which responded to its first crisis of the season with a stunning opening burst to leave Tottenham floundering.

It could have been ahead long before Jesus’s opener as Tottenham struggled to cope with City’s slick movement and wasted several opportunities after the break.

Inter CL hopes dented

Inter Milan’s Champions League qualification hopes suffered a setback Saturday when it was held to a scoreless draw by Atalanta in their Serie A clash.

With runaway leader Juventus on 81 points and Napoli second on 77, Inter, Roma and Lazio — with 60 points each ahead of the Rome derby Sunday night — are locked in a three-way battle for the last two Champions League spots. — Reuters