Manchester United took a big step towards a return to their once-permanent place among Europe's aristocrats when they beat a resilient Crystal Palace 2-1 to close in on a Champions League place.

The victory ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats and put United seven points clear of Liverpool, the only team who can pip them to fourth spot in the Premier League.

EPL top-scorers
22 Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)   
20 Harry Kane (Tottenham)        
19 Diego Costa (Chelsea)                 
17 Charlie Austin (QPR)  
16 Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)   

To do that Liverpool must win their last three matches, starting at champions Chelsea on Sunday, and hope United take only one point from games against third-placed Arsenal and relegation-threatened Hull City.

The odds now firmly favour United's return to the Champions League after missing out this season and that would represent a solid achievement for Dutch coach Louis van Gaal in his first season in charge.

United finished seventh last season under caretaker-manager Ryan Giggs following the sacking of David Moyes.

United went ahead with a 19th-minute penalty from Juan Mata after Scott Dann handled an Ashley Young cross and although Jason Puncheon equalised with a deflected 57th-minute free kick, Marouane Fellaini secured victory with a 78th-minute header, again from a Young cross.

Burnley relegated

Earlier, Burnley were relegated from the Premier League despite beating Hull City 1-0 as results elsewhere sent them back to the Championship after one season in the top flight.

Steve Bruce's Hull are 18th following the defeat by Burnley and they are two points behind Newcastle after John Carver's side ended a run of eight successive defeats with a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion at St James' Park.

Sunderland claimed a vital 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park to climb out of the bottom three and level on 36 points with arch-rivals Newcastle, but Dick Advocaat's side have a game in hand on the teams around them.

Results:

Aston Villa 1-0 West Ham

Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United

Everton 0-2 Sunderland

Hull City 0-1 Burnley

Leicester City 2-0 Southampton

Newcastle United 1-1 West Brom 

Stoke City 3-0 Tottenham

Source: Reuters