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United stay clear; Spurs go fourth

December 16, 2012

LONDON, Dec 16: Manchester United stayed in control of the English Premier League as they re-established their six-point advantage at the top by sweeping Sunderland aside 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

United now have 42 points with defending champions Manchester City on 36 and European champions Chelsea in third on 29 points.

Everton missed the chance to move level on points with Chelsea after drawing 1-1 at Stoke City and instead saw Tottenham Hotspur take fourth place with 29 points after a 1-0 win at home to Swansea City on Sunday.

Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney — United’s in-form strike partnership — were both on target; adding to a sublime strike by midfielder Tom Cleverley.

United were 2-0 up after 19 minutes, Van Persie opening the scoring with a left-foot finish from close range for his 12th league goal of the season and Cleverley adding a quickfire second three minutes later following a one-two with Michael Carrick.

Rooney made it 3-0 with a 59th minute tap-in before substitute Fraizer Campbell pulled one back against his old club with a header four minutes after coming on.

“Some of our football was very good and we could have scored lots of goals,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “We will try and keep the momentum going and consistency going.”

Everton were lucky to end with 11 men after Marouane Fellaini headbutted Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross without the referee noticing in an incident. Everton went ahead when Shawcross put through his own goal in the 36th minute but Stoke levelled through Kenwyne Jones.

Belgium international Jan Vertonghen lashed home a 75th-minute winner to earn Tottenham victory at home to Swansea City that lifted Andre Villas-Boas’ side into the Champions League places.

“The Premier League from third to 10th is so tight,” said Villas-Boas, remarking on a situation where six points separate Chelsea from 10th-placed Swansea.

“For us, it’s important to break out from the pack and join the top two.”

Also on Sunday, West Bromwich Albion stayed sixth after being held to a goalless draw by 11th placed West Ham United at The Hawthorns.

On Saturday, Queens Park Rangers celebrated their first win of the season after beating west London rivals Fulham 2-1 thanks to two-goal Adel Taarabt to end a record run of 16 matches without a victory and move off the foot of the table.

Liverpool’s resurgence was ended with a surprise 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa who moved three points clear of the relegation zone.

Norwich claimed a fifth straight home win by beating Wigan Athletic 2-1, lifting the team into seventh place and just two points off the Champions League positions.—Agencies