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Sunday, January 14, 2007

 

Manchester United Keeps 6 point lead over Chelsea.



Manchester United remained six points clear at the top of the English Premiership after a 3-1 win against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Saturday.

First-half goals from Park Ji-Sung, Michael Carrick and Cristiano Ronaldo put Sir Alex Ferguson's side in an impregnable position.

It was United's third win over the Birmingham club in as many weeks after a 3-0 success in the league at Villa Park and a 2-1 third round FA Cup victory last weekend.

Reigning champions Chelsea stayed second with a 4-0 home victory over Wigan while Liverpool remained third after a 3-0 win away to basement club Watford.

Fourth-placed Arsenal again belied their reputation for being a soft touch in the north with a 2-0 win away to Blackburn despite playing most of the match with 10 men.

They lost Gilberto Silva in the 15th minute after the Brazil midfielder was sent-off for kicking out at Robbie Savage.

Despite that setback Kolo Toure put Arsenal ahead before a rapid counter-attack goal from skipper Thierry Henry sealed victory 19 minutes from time at Ewood Park.

Struggling Charlton went down 3-1 against Middlesbrough while West Ham also stayed in the relegation zone after a 3-3 draw against London rivals Fulham.

Bolton remained fifth with a goalless draw at home to Manchester City while Euro rivals Portsmouth, in sixth, drew 1-1 away to Sheffield United.

South Korea international Park followed up his own blocked shot to give Manchester United an 11th minute lead against Villa.

Two minutes later Park turned provider for Carrick before the England midfielder supplied the cross for Ronaldo to head home in the 35th minute.

Gabriel Agbonlahor pulled a goal back for Villa early in the second-half.

"We had a lot of chances and played some good football which we capitalised on," Ferguson said.

Frank Lampard ignored the speculation surrounding manager Jose Mourinho's future to fire Chelsea into an early lead with a long-range free-kick.

But a first win in four league games wasn't secured until Arjen Robben made it 2-0 on the hour before the Dutch international's 70th minute cross was turned into his own net by Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland.

Didier Drogba added a fourth in the final minute at Stamford Bridge.

Afterwards, Portuguese boss Mourinho refused to be drawn about his future.

"Chelsea is important, not me," he said.

West Ham remained in the bottom three after a see-saw home draw.

Tomasz Radzinski gave Fulham a 16th-minute lead before striker Bobby Zamora, sent off late-on for a second yellow-card, levelled.

Yossi Benayoun put the Hammers ahead early in the second-half but Fulham's United States striker Brian McBride tied the game at 2-2.

However, Israeli international Benayoun restored West Ham's lead before French defender Philippe Christanval drew Fulham level in the last minute

Charlton went ahead through former Boro striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at The Valley.

But Boro bounced back through Lee Cattermole's equaliser on the stroke of half-time before goals from Julio Arca and Aiyegbeni Yakubu completed the recovery.

Craig Bellamy's strike and a double from fellow striker Peter Crouch gave Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez a much-needed victory at Watford.

The Spaniard had been widely criticised for fielding a weakened side in Tuesday's humiliating 6-3 League Cup quarter-final loss to Arsenal at Anfield - days after the Gunners had also dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

"We have confidence and the team is more consistent now," said Benitez.

Bellamy opened the scoring in the 33rd minute and England forward Crouch added the second seven minutes later when he headed past Ben Foster after the Watford keeper parried Bellamy's effort.

Crouch wrapped up the game early in the second-half after turning in Bellamy's cross.

Bolton were fortunate to gain a goalless draw after City's Joey Barton missed an excellent chance but manager Sam Allardyce was upbeat.

"If we can win half the games we've got left we will certainly get a UEFA Cup place," he said.

Portsmouth went behind to Stephen Quinn's free-kick before Gary O'Neil capitalised on Claude Davis's error to equalise nine minutes frome time.

Seventh-placed Tottenham can close the gap on Pompey to two points if they beat Newcastle on Sunday while Reading travel to Everton.

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