Late Hernandez header keeps United on track

Manchester United move one step closer to record 19th Premier League title as Torres gets off the mark for Chelsea.

    Manager Sir Alex Ferguson enjoys the late win at Old Trafford [GALLO/GETTY]

    Javier Hernandez struck six minutes from time to help Manchester United close in on a record 19th English Premier League title at Old Trafford on Saturday.

    Extending their lead to nine points at the top, United looked as if they were heading towards another draw as they struggled to break down an Everton side who went into the game unbeaten in seven league games.

    United were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at Newcastle midweek and with only four games left every point is vital. Thanks to this result, United are on course to secure the title if they win their next two matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.

    United's win takes them nine points clear at the top with 73 points. Chelsea, who beat West Ham 3-0 are second on 67, with Arsenal, away to Bolton Wanderers on Sunday, on 64.

    Manchester City, who visit Blackburn Rovers on Monday, are fourth on 56 with fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on 55 after they could only draw 2-2 at home with West Bromwich Albion.

    Liverpool are only three points further back after a convincing win over Birmingham City 5-0 at Anfield.

    Resting

    "We just kept going," United boss Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.

    "We played some really good football, we had some good openings and could have had the game won by halftime.

    "But in time-honoured Manchester United fashion we don't do that. We went to the very end and kept everyone on the edge of their seat but we get there.

    "We kept going against a very good Everton team. I think we can be very pleased today."

    Ferguson had one eye on next week's Champions League semifinal in Germany as Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic sat out the game ahead of first leg clash at Schalke on Tuesday.

    Everton settled in quickly despite the absence of key players Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta from the starting line-up.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday 23 April

     Man Utd 1-0 Everton
     Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke
     Blackpool 1-1 Newcastle
     Liverpool 5-0 Birmingham
     Sunderland 4-2 Wigan
     Tottenham 2-2 West Brom
     Wolves 1-1 Fulham
     Chelsea 3-0 West Ham

    Sunday April 24

     Bolton v Arsenal

    Monday April 25

     Blackburn v Man City

    Tuesday April 26

     Stoke v Wolverhampton

    Wednesday April 27

     Fulham v Bolton

    Leon Osman tested Edwin van der Sar in the eighth minute, but it was Van der Sar's opposite number who was responsible for Everton going in goalless at half time.

    The United States international Tim Howard produced two fine saves to deny Hernandez in the space of six minutes.

    Hernandez looked certain to score from an acute angle before the Everton stopper turned the ball behind in the 25th minute.

    Howard again frustrated the United forward by keeping out his first time shot after the move of the game involving Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney.

    Hernandez went from being his side's most dangerous attacking threat to becoming Everton's 38th minute saviour.

    After Valencia had got the better of left-back Leighton Baines, the United winger teed up Nani, whose low drive was heading for the corner of the net before it was deflected wide by Hernandez.

    In the second half, Cahill, who has been struggling with injury, was introduced along with striker Victor Anichebe in place of the ineffective Jermaine Beckford and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

    The changes seemed to have an immediate impact as Anichebe went sprawling after a nudge by Ferdinand inside the United area but referee Peter Walton waved away Everton's appeals for a penalty.

    Jack Rodwell was denied when his deflected shot was tipped away by a diving Edwin van der Sar in the 69th,

    But after Sylvain Distin almost put through his own net, United took a huge stride towards claiming another Premier League crown double when Hernandez leaped high to head home an Antonio Valencia cross and cap an excellent individual display with his 19th goal of the season in all competitions

    Torres triumphant

    It was lucky 13 for Fernando Torres who finally scored his first goal when he came off the bench to get Chelsea's second in a 3-0 home win over fellow London side West Ham United.

    With six minutes remaining Torres ran on to a Nicolas Anelka through pass and, after initially appearing to lose control of the ball as it got stuck on a pitch made sodden by heavy rain, he turned and swept the ball home.

    The striker was immediately engulfed by all his team mates while Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti pumped his fists in a joyful celebration.

    In the day's other games, Sunderland beat Wigan Athletic 4-2 to ease their relegation worries.

    Wolverhampton Wanderers against Fulham, Blackpool v Newcastle United and Aston Villa v Stoke City all finished 1-1.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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