Manchester City kept the destiny of the Premier League title in its hands by beating Southampton 4-1 on Saturday, with the visitors' defeat further marred by a serious-looking injury to England striker Jay Rodriguez.
Yaya Toure set City on its way with a third-minute penalty at Etihad Stadium before Rickie Lambert equalized with a spot kick of his own in the 37th.
Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko both scored in first-half injury time for City. The hosts added an 81st-minute fourth goal through Stevan Jovetic to gain three points that put the team a point behind leader Liverpool, with City having played a game less.
Liverpool visits West Ham on Sunday and then hosts City in a crucial game in the title race next weekend. City will clinch a second league title in three years by winning its remaining seven matches.
Rodriguez's chances of playing in the World Cup were jeopardized after he was carried off on a stretcher with a knee injury midway through the first half, having landed badly as he jumped to control the ball. He is one of the in-form strikers in the Premier League and is likely to be in England manager Roy Hodgson's plans for Brazil.
"We need to analyze how he's doing," Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino said, "but it's not looking good."
Southampton was comfortably second best after the break but had City in some trouble at 1-1 after Lambert's 34th straight successful penalty for the club.
The turning point of the match arguably was City's second goal, which arrived when David Silva received a pass when he was in an offside position before crossing for Nasri to apply a simple finish.
"The linesman killed off the game, it's clear," Pochettino said.
Toure scored City's opener after Dzeko was adjudged to have been fouled by Jose Fonte, and Dzeko almost doubled the lead when he headed against the bar from Nasri's cross.
Southampton's penalty came after Jack Cork was carelessly tripped by Pablo Zabaleta as he burst into the box and the visitors impressed until City's two-goal counter-punch in injury time.
Jovetic came on for Silva to add the fourth, tapping home from a cross by Jesus Navas, and there was still time for Toure to strike a shot against the post from the edge of box.
"We knew it was going to be a big game and a very difficult one, so we take a lot of positives and confidence out of this game," City captain Vincent Kompany said. "Not many teams will dominate a game against Southampton."
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