LONDON (AP) ― Manchester City thrashed Sunderland 5-0 to strengthen its chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League, and Fulham eased its relegation fears with a convincing 3-0 win over Blackpool on Sunday.
City had five different scorers in Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure as the rampant hosts threw off the shackles to move into third place in the table, above reigning champion Chelsea.
The title appears beyond City ― with crosstown rival Manchester United 10 points clear at the top ― but a finish in the Champions League positions looks well within reach for Roberto Mancini’s side, which climbed six points above fifth-place Tottenham.
“In the last 45 days, we’ve played every three days and we’ve had more player injuries. That was the problem,” said Mancini, whose team is out of Europe but through to play United in the FA Cup semifinals at Wembley.
“Now all the players have recovered and we play Saturday to Saturday, we don’t have a problem. We hope we continue to play very well like today.”
Bobby Zamora marked his first league start for Fulham in seven months with a quickfire double before halftime against beleaguered Blackpool, guiding his team to a comfortable victory at Craven Cottage that lifts the London club into the top half of the table and six points clear of the bottom three.
Midfielder Dickson Etuhu scored Fulham’s other goal to leave Blackpool just a point and a place from the relegation zone.
“We’ve never wavered from that view (that Fulham is a top-10 team) and we’re in that position,” Fulham manager Mark Hughes said. “We’re three points from seventh. It’s possible we can really establish ourselves from now until the end of the season in that top half.”
FC Porto clinched its 25th Portuguese league title with a 2-1 win at Benfica on Sunday, keeping alive its bid to become the only the second team in Portugal to finish a season unbeaten.
Porto is 16 points clear of second-place Benfica with five rounds to play. The only Portuguese team to go a whole season without a loss was Benfica in 1972-73.
Freddy Guarin put Porto ahead in the ninth minute at the Stadium of Light from a tight angle to beat goalkeeper Roberto Gago.
Benfica’s Javier Saviola leveled from the penalty spot in the 17th after defender Nicolas Otamendi had fouled Franco Jara, but Hulk blasted Porto’s winner in the 26th.
“Benfica was lucky it was not a rout,” Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas said. “It is feeling of accomplishment and a pleasure to form part of this group. The credit is all theirs.”
Defending champion Marseille stayed within four points of French league leader Lille after winning 1-0 at Lens on Sunday from Benoit Cheyrou’s second-half goal.
Cheyrou beat three defenders before unleashing a curled shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner in the 69th minute for his third goal this season.
With nine rounds left, Lille is closing on its first title since 1954, but Marseille is still in the hunt after taking 25 points from a possible 30 in its past 10 matches.
Sevilla rose to fifth place in the Spanish league after beating Zaragoza 3-1 on Sunday, and Diego Costa scored a hat trick to give Atletico Madrid a 3-2 win over Osasuna.
Sevilla led 1-0 in the 43rd minute at Sanchez Pizjuan stadium when Diego Perotti got behind the defense to tap in a low cross from Jesus Navas at the far post.
Jiri Jarosik leveled for Zaragoza in the 47th, heading a cross from a free kick inside the near post.
Milivoje Novakovic’s late winner gave Cologne a 1-0 win over Nuremberg on Sunday, extending the team’s winning run at home to seven Bundesliga matches.
The Slovenian scored from close range in the second minute of injury time, deflecting Slawomir Peszko’s cross past goalkeeper Ralf Schaefer.
“It was a battle of attrition in which we delivered the lucky punch,” Cologne coach Frank Schaefer said.