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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Manchester United lead the Premier League

Manchester United are the new leaders of the Premier League after they beat Sunderland 4-0 on Boxing Day and then saw title rivals Arsenal held to a 0-0 draw at Portsmouth.

United strolled to a straightforward victory at the Stadium of Light.

Wayne Rooney was put clear in the 20th minute and had no trouble beating Craig Gordon with a cool finish, and he turned provider when he broke forward and crossed to Louis Saha who guided the ball home after 30 minutes.

A sublime Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick in first-half injury-time put the game beyond Sunderland and when Nani went down in the box, Saha converted the late penalty (86).


Arsenal had two great chances to grab the points in the closing stages but William Gallas lifted a shot over the bar from close range and then Tomas Rosicky screwed an effort just wide in injury time.

The result leaves Arsene Wenger's men trailing United by a point at the halfway stage of the season.


Chelsea also dropped points as the Blues were involved in a riveting 4-4 draw against Aston Villa in a game which saw three players sent off.

Villa took an early 2-0 lead with a Shaun Maloney double. Zat Knight was sent off in first-half injury-time for bringing down Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko scored the resulting penalty, before levelling with a brilliant strike in the 50th minute.

Chelsea went ahead through defender Alex (66) but Martin Laursen equalised for Villa. Ricardo Carvalho was dismissed for a two-footed lunge at Gabriel Agbonlahor but Chelsea went ahead regardless through Michael Ballack's 88th-minute free-kick.

However, Villa earned a penalty when Ashley Cole was sent off for handling on the line, and Gareth Barry scored from the spot to secure a well-earned point.


Liverpool laboured to a late 2-1 win at Derby and had captain Steven Gerrard to thank for the victory.

Spain international Fernando Torres' excellent dribble and finish put Liverpool a goal up at Pride Park although Rafael Benitez's men struggled to extend their lead.

Jay McEveley equalised on 67 minutes and chances came and went for both sides, before Gerrard - who moments earlier hit the bar - made a tireless burst forward to steam into the box and bundle the ball past Lewis Price in the 90th minute.


The pressure on Sam Allardyce was cranked up by Newcastle's miserable 1-0 defeat at Wigan.

Ryan Taylor's delightful curling free-kick beat Shay Given to put the Latics ahead - and heap further stress on Allardyce following the 2-2 draw with Derby last weekend.


Birmingham enjoyed a much-needed 3-0 win against Middlesbrough at St Andrews.

Stewart Downing sliced Gary McSheffrey's driven free-kick into his own net in the 21st minute and Mikael Forssell stabbed home after Cameron Jerome flicked on from a corner.

McSheffrey added a third in added time, converting a penalty after being fouled by Huth in the box.


Everton beat Bolton 2-0 after a goalless first half at Goodison Park.

The home side edged ahead after 51 minutes when goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen made a mess of clearing Phil Neville's deep cross, allowing the ball to pass him and hit the net.

Tim Cahill made it 2-0 after a scrappy build-up when Rob Styles played a smart advantage and Joleon Lescott crossed accurately.


Earlier in the day, Tottenham were impressive in a 5-1 win over Fulham as Robbie Keane and Tom Huddlestone scored two apiece and Jermaine Defoe added a late goal, while Moritz Volz was sent off for Fulham.


West Ham and Reading shared the points in an entertaining 1-1 draw at Upton Park in which the Royals had Brynjar Gunnarsson sent off in the first half.

Nolberto Solano put the Hammers ahead but Dave Kitson secured a point.