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Man United rout West Ham 4-1
May 03, 2008 19:50 IST
Last Updated: May 03, 2008 23:28 IST
Manchester United [Images] took a huge step towards retaining their Premier League title when they beat West Ham United 4-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday after playing more than half the match with 10 men.
Cristiano Ronaldo [Images] scored twice while Carlos Tevez and Michael Carrick both scored against their old club as United moved on to 84 points with one match to play.
If they win that game, at Wigan Athletic next Sunday, they will be champions of England [Images] for the 17th time.
Chelsea, who are at Newcastle United on Monday, have 81 points, but a vastly inferior goal difference to United.
At the other end of the table Fulham continued their revival with a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage over fellow relegation candidates Birmingham City, who are now second bottom.
Goals from Brian McBride and Eric Nevland were enough to help Fulham climb above Reading, who dropped into the relegation zone after losing 1-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur in their sixth successive match without a goal.
Robbie Keane sealed Spurs win with his 23rd goal of the season after 16 minutes.
With one match to play, Fulham have 33 points as do Reading, and both are one point clear of Birmingham (32). Bolton Wanderers, who are 16th and also on 33 points, face Sunderland in Saturday's evening kickoff (1615 GMT).
Aston Villa's hopes of pipping Everton for fifth place and an automatic spot in the UEFA Cup next season, were hit after they lost 2-0 at home to Wigan Athletic where Antonio Valencia scored twice.
United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports News afterwards: "That was an important game today and I'm very pleased because there was a bit of tiredness in the second half.
"The plan in the second half was to kill the game off and get the fourth goal and we did that. It's been a great day for us, we have a big chance (of the title)."
If Chelsea lose on Monday, the title will be United's unless they lose at Wigan and Chelsea beat Bolton Wanderers with a winning margin well into double figures in their final league matches next week.
Ronaldo, named England's Footballer of the Year for the second successive season on Friday, gave United a third minute lead and added another when he turned the ball in off his thigh after 24 minutes to take his season's tally in all competitions to 40 goals. Former West Ham striker Carlos Tevez made it 3-0 with a stunning 30-yard shot two minutes later before Dean Ashton replied with an overhead bicycle kick two minutes after that.
United were reduced to 10 men when Nani was dismissed eight minutes before halftime for a headbutt on Lucas Neill.
Carrick put the game beyond West Ham with a well-struck shot that took a deflection off Neill after 59 minutes.
In the afternoon's other match Blackburn Rovers beat relegated Derby County 3-1 to extend Derby's run without a league victory to 31 matches.