Rooney at the double as United stay in front
Wayne Rooney scored twice as Manchester United remained five points clear at the top of the Premier League after a 3-1 win at home to Aston Villa yesterday.
For much of the night it looked as if United might extend their lead but second-placed Arsenal came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 at the Emirates and so stay in touch with Alex Ferguson’s unbeaten side.
Rooney’s first minute goal – his first in open play in the Premier League in 11 months – gave the hosts the ideal start at Old Trafford.
Rooney controlled United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar’s long goal-kick downfield before unleashing a 20-yard dipping shot past Brad Friedel.
Rooney then doubled United’s lead on the stroke of half-time when he turned in Nani’s cross from close range.
Darren Bent gave Villa hope with a 58th-minute goal before United defender Nemanja Vidic blasted an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net five minutes later.
Louis Saha fired Everton into a 24th minute lead against Arsenal, although the French striker appeared to be several yards offside. But Arsenal grabbed a 70th-minute equaliser through Andrey Arshavin.
And the Gunners completed their revival 15 minutes from time when unmarked defender Laurent Koscielny headed in a Robin van Persie corner.
Champions Chelsea, still 10 points behind United, came from a goal down to win 4-2 at Sunderland.
Blues captain John Terry made it 3-2 on the hour mark after Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon could only parry Frank Lampard’s initial shot and striker Nicolas Anelka put the result beyond doubt in the 90th minute.
Four goals were scored in a remarkable first half at the Stadium of Light.
It took Sunderland just four minutes to open the scoring, with Phil Bardsley’s swerving shot deceiving Petr Cech. But Chelsea equalised through Lampard’s 15th-minute penalty after Ahmed Elmohamady was ruled to have climbed over Ashley Cole in the box.
And eight minutes later Chelsea were in front when Gordon made up Salomon Kalou’s mind by misguidedly rushing off his line.
However, Steve Bruce’s side were back on level terms when, after Elmohamady was fouled by John Obi Mikel on the edge of the area, Kieran Richardson saw his free-kick go under the Chelsea wall and past a flat-footed Cech.
Playing today (21.00 unless stated): Birmingham vs Man. City 20.45; Blackburn vs Tottenham; Blackpool vs West Ham; Bolton vs Wolves; Fulham vs Newcastle; Liverpool vs Stoke.
Arshavin 70; Koscielny 75;
Bardsley 4; Richardson 26
Lampard 15 pen; Kalou 23; Terry 60; Anelka 90;
Man. United 3
Rooney 1, 45; Vidic 63;
Aston Villa 1
West Brom 2
Odemwingie 5; Fortune 79;
N’Zogbia 20; Watson 43;