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Rediff.com  » Sports » Easy wins for Man Utd, Chelsea

Easy wins for Man Utd, Chelsea

January 14, 2007 17:03 IST

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 13th goal of the season while Park Ji-sung and Michael Carrick got their first as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-1 to maintain their six-point Premier League lead on Saturday.

United have 57 points to the 51 of Chelsea, who ended a run of three straight league draws with a 4-0 home win over Wigan Athletic thanks to Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben, an own-goal and Didier Drogba's 21st of the season for the club.

Liverpool, knocked out of League and FA Cups by Arsenal in the last week, continued their strong league form with their seventh win from the last eight -- 3-0 at Watford -- to consolidate third place on 43.

Arsenal played most of their game at Blackburn Rovers with 10 men after Gilberto Silva was dismissed after 13 minutes, but still managed a 2-0 win to stay in fourth place on 42 points.

Bolton Wanderers are fifth on 40 despite being held to a goalless home draw by Manchester City.

In other games, Middlesbrough won 3-1 at Charlton Athletic, Sheffield United drew 1-1 with Portsmouth while Fulham snatched an injury-time equaliser for a 3-3 draw at West Ham United.

Villa fans must dread facing Manchester United. Already this season they have lost 3-0 at home to them in the league and 2-1 the FA Cup, last week. They have not beaten them anywhere in the league since 1995 and their last win at Old Trafford came 24 years ago.

Within 13 minutes on Saturday it was obvious that nothing was going to change.

Park scored at the second attempt after 11 minutes then, two minutes later, set up midfield partner Carrick for his first goal for the club since joining from Tottenham Hotspur.

Carrick then crossed for in-form Ronaldo to head the third after 35 minutes and though Villa pulled one back through Gabriel Agbonlahor, United never looked threatened and came close to a fourth when Wayne Rooney hit the bar.

"In the first half we were excellent, we played some good football and capitalised," United boss Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports. "It's another game gone and we are in a good position."

ROBBEN RETURN

Chelsea needed a last-gasp goal by Robben to beat Wigan before Christmas and the Dutchman, out of action with injury since then, was a key man again on Saturday as the Lancashire side fell to their sixth successive league defeat.

Lampard's free kick after 13 minutes had Chelsea ahead but, after three successive league draws, there were some nerves in the crowd until Robben fired in the second after 63 minutes.

The winger's cross was turned into his own net by Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland with Drogba heading a last-minute fourth.

It was a satisfying end to a troubled week -- which featured speculation about the future of coach Jose Mourinho and an embarrassing 1-1 draw with fourth-division Wycombe Wanderers in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.

"It's been a dark period, three draws is not normal for our team ... we had a bit more pressure," Mourinho said.

"What makes the difference in the big teams is the individual quality of some players and when you lose this you become like the others.

"When you see how Robben played against Wigan a month ago and the way he played today ... he breaks defences and it was a big blow for us that he wasn't playing in the holiday matches."

Liverpool too put a bad week behind them with a comfortable victory at Vicarage Road that leaves Watford bottom of the table and 10 points adrift of the safety zone.

They started slowly but went ahead after 34 minutes through Craig Bellamy before England striker Peter Crouch then scored either side of halftime.

Arsenal's Gilberto was unlucky to get a red card after a tangle with Robbie Savage at Ewood Park but the Gunners made light of their numerical disadvantage.

Kolo Toure headed them in front after 36 minutes and they were calm and composed before Thierry Henry swept in a magnificent second on the counter-attack.

 

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