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Football

United untroubled at top of Premier League

Manchester City and United both record victories and there are crucial wins for bottom dwellers Reading and Wigan.
Last Modified: 29 Dec 2012 19:30
Man United's goal-scoring machine Robin van Persie celebrates late goal by displaying tribute [EPA]

Manchester United head into 2013 with a seven-point lead over closest rivals Man City as both teams recorded victories in the English Premier League on Saturday. 

In the early kick-off, Tottenham moved up to third position with a 2-1 defeat of Sunderland

Arsenal put seven past Newcastle in the late kick-off of the day in a dramatic ten goal thriller at the Emirates. 

Alex Ferguson had no cause for complaint as United ended with a comfortable 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

English Premier League Results 

Saturday December 29

 Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham 
 Aston Villa 0-3 Wigan 
 Fulham 1-2 Swansea
 Man Utd 2-0 West Brom 
 Norwich 3-4 Man City 
 Reading 1-0 West Ham 
 Stoke 3-3 Southampton  
 Arsenal 7-3 Newcastle


The United manager, who was involved in controversial exchanges with the officials during the last game at Old Trafford, saw an early Gareth McAuley own goal and a late effort from substitute Robin van Persie secure victory.

And, after his heated exchanges on the touchline during United's 4-3 win over Newcastle United on Wednesday, Ferguson even managed to exchange jokes with the assistant referee as he masterminded another United win and a rare clean sheet.

United, who had trailed in five of their previous nine home league games this season, at least had the comfort of being gifted an early lead on this occasion.

Ferguson had gambled by starting with van Persie and Javier Hernandez - two of the central figures of the thrilling win over Newcastle - on the bench.

The fact that two players recalled for this occasion, Young and Shinji Kagawa, played a key role in the goal was therefore vindication for his selection policy.

Young was the creator of United's ninth-minute opener, exchanging passes with Kagawa and drilling in a low cross that struck the leg of McAuley and flew past his deceived goalkeeper Ben Foster.

After coming on in the 65th minute, Robin van Persie sealed victory with a strike in the 90th minute.

Blue sees red

Meanwhile City survived the first-half sending-off of Samir Nasri for an apparent headbutt to edge past Norwich 4-3 in a Premier League thriller.

City were 2-0 ahead after four minutes thanks to a double from Edin Dzeko, but Anthony Pilkington's free kick halved the deficit before Nasri was dismissed after squaring up to Sebastian Bassong in the 44th minute.

Sergio Aguero restored City's two-goal lead five minutes after halftime, only for Russell Martin to make it 3-2 in the 63rd and then 4-3 in the 75th after Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn had deflected in Dzeko's low drive for an own goal.

City had some nervy late moments but hung on to stay within touching distance of United.

Pavel Pogrebnyak's early goal earned Reading a huge 1-0 victory over West Ham, provisionally lifting his team three points clear of last-place Queens Park Rangers in the standings.

          Pavel Pogrebnyak's winner gave Reading their second win of the season [GALLO/GETTY]

The Russia striker latched onto a poor back pass by defender James Collins and planted a low finish into the corner in the fifth minute.

Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici produced some fine saves to preserve the lead and ensure the team won only their second game of the campaign.

The hosts are still five points adrift of safety in their first season back in the English top flight.

Wigan moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-0 win at Aston Villa.

Ivan Ramis put the visitors ahead in the third minute by heading in a corner from Jean Beausejour, and struggling Villa never recovered.

Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone added goals within a four-minute span after the break for Wigan, who climbed above Villa into 16th place in the standings.

Villa are still just above the relegation zone, one point ahead of Southampton.

Goals galore

Stoke and Southampton played out a 3-3 stormer.  

Stoke were under par throughout but still managed to grab a share of the points after a phenomenal last-minute strike from Cameron Jerome. 

Jerome had barely had time to vent his frustration at an effort being ruled out for offside when he buried a sumptuous strike. Peter Crouch almost won it with a header but in the event neither side deserved to lose.

Swansea capitalised on mistakes by backup goalkeeper David Stockdale to beat struggling Fulham 2-1.

In the late kick-off, Arsenal defeated Newcastle 7-3 in another end-to-end thriller.

Newcastle fought back three times in the match but the Gunners wrapped up the victory when Theo Walcott secured his hat-trick and French striker Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score two quick goals. 

Demba Ba - whose future at Newcastle in unclear - also scored twice and Sylvain Marveaux got his first Premier League goal for the Toon Army, however, it was a superb result for the London club which pushed them up to fifth.  

It was also the highest scoring meeting between Arsenal and Newcastle in history. 

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