Full steam ahead for Manchester United

United extend their lead at the top of Premier League to 15 points as Arsene Wenger ends bad week on brighter note.

    Full steam ahead for Manchester United
    It is hugs all around in the United camp with Rio Ferdinand congratulating goalscorer Ryan Giggs [AP]

    Manchester United displayed their youth and experience on Saturday with Rafael da Silva and Ryan Giggs both on target against QPR. 

    Separated by 17 years - united on the scoresheet - the two goalscorers exhibited why Alex Ferguson's team are runaway leaders of the English Premier League.  

    Grey around the temples, Giggs secured victory scoring his first goal against QPR since 1995. Da Silva, without a single silver hair, scored an absolute thunderbolt to put United ahead.

    These are good times at Manchester United - despite the decision of their chief executive David Gill to leave the club in the summer.

    It is likely United will be okay without him as the 2-0 victory over QPR moved United 15 points clear of Manchester City. 

    The only incident threatening to upset United's afternoon was the sight of top goalscorer Robin van Persie hobbling off the pitch, but Ferguson was quick to put United fans are ease. 

    Results and fixtures 

    Saturday February 23

     Fulham 1-0 Stoke
     Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa 
     Norwich 2-1 Everton
     QPR 0-2 Man United
     Reading 0-3 Wigan 
     West Brom 2-1 Sunderland 

    Sunday February 24

     Man City v Chelsea  
     Newcastle v Southampton 

    "He collided into a camera in a dug-out, collided into the base of that and it gave him a sore hip," Ferguson told Sky Sports.

    "It's a hip injury, so it might be tender and sore for a few days, but hopefully he'll be all right, particularly for the Real Madrid game."

    Brazilian right-back Da Silva struck in the 23rd minute, arrowing a crisp, first-time drive right into the top-left corner from outside the box after Julio Cesar had pushed away a shot from Robin van Persie.

    The evergreen Ryan Giggs sealed victory in the 80th minute, ghosting onto Danny Welbeck's through ball and whipping a low shot past the exposed Cesar.

    Victory gives United a massive lead at the league summit, with Man City playing third-placed Chelsea on Sunday.

    Arsene Wenger didn't exactly look delighted after his team's 2-1 victory over Aston Villa but inside he must have been glad a terrible week had produced a happy ending.

    Arsenal put their woes behind them as Santi Cazorla completed a brace with an 85th-minute goal that condemned relegation-threatened Aston Villa to another defeat.

    Knocked out of the FA Cup by second-tier Blackburn Rovers and soundly beaten by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Arsenal were desperate for a reaction and took a sixth-minute lead when Cazorla drilled home.

    Wenger's men failed to build on their lead, however, and in the 68th minute, Andreas Weimann equalised with a 25-yard shot that squirmed beneath Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

    Yet more unpleasant headlines beckoned, but with five minutes to play, January signing Nacho Monreal scampered down the left wing and cut the ball back for his Spanish countryman Cazorla to guide a low shot past Brad Guzan.

    The result took Arsenal to within a point of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who visit West Ham United on Monday.

    Wigan edge out

    Wigan athletically hauled themselves out of the bottom three after a potentially crucial 3-0 win at relegation rivals Reading.

    A quick-fire brace from Ivorian striker Arouna Kone put Wigan 2-0 up shortly before half-time and Maynor Figueroa added a third early in the second period after a slick one-two with Franco Di Santo.

    Reading's misery was complete in the 55th minute when striker Pavel Pogrebnyak was sent off for an ugly lunge on Figueroa.

    Defeat saw Reading slip below Wigan to second-bottom, although Brian McDermott's side are just a point from safety.

    "The challenge is to stay in the Premier League - it's not an easy one," said Wigan manager Roberto Martinez.

    "There are 33 points to play for and I do feel it is going to go down to small margins"

    Wigan manager Roberto Martinez

    "There are 33 points to play for and I do feel it is going to go down to small margins."

    Everton lost ground in the race for Champions League football after Norwich City came from behind to win 2-1 at Carrow Road.

    Leon Osman headed the visitors in front from Leighton Baines' cross in the 39th minute, but Kai Kamara levelled six minutes from full-time before Grant Holt lashed in a 94th-minute winner.

    On-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku scored in each half - the first a penalty - as West Bromwich Albion won 2-1 at home to Sunderland, who replied through Stephane Sessegnon.

    Earlier, a marvellous goal from Dimitar Berbatov gave Fulham a 1-0 win at home to Stoke City that lifted Martin Jol's men to 11th place in the table.

    Former Man United player Berbatov lashed a vicious volley into the top-right corner from 15 yards in first-half injury time, while Stoke's Jon Walters saw a penalty saved by Mark Schwarzer after 10 minutes of the second half.

    Berbatov is no longer part of the Man United success story, but he is enjoying success on a more individual level at his new club.



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