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United start 2013 with win at Wigan

City stay in hunt after beating Stoke 3-0

Manchester United kept a firm grip on the Premier League title race by sweeping to a 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic on the first day of 2013 to maintain their seven-point lead.

Champions Manchester City remain United’s nearest rivals after a 3-0 success at home to Stoke City, while Tottenham Hotspur climbed to third by coming from behind to defeat second-bottom Reading 3-1 at White Hart Lane.

Javier Hernandez had already had a goal ruled out for offside at the DW Stadium when he put United 1-0 up against Wigan by tapping in after Ali Al Habsi saved from Patrice Evra in the 35th minute.

Robin van Persie got off the mark for the New Year eight minutes later, collecting a pass from Hernandez and sending Ivan Ramis to the turf with a dummy before curling the ball inside the right-hand post.

Hernandez added a third in the 63rd minute, swivelling to dispatch a half-volley when a Van Persie free-kick arrived at his feet, before the Dutchman completed a brace of his own in the 88th minute with his 16th league goal of the campaign.

“Javier Hernandez is a goal-scorer, a real penalty-box player,” said United manager Alex Ferguson, who turned 71 on Monday.

“Van Persie’s first goal was magnificent. We expected him to add something to us, and that’s exactly what he’s done.”

City dominated the early stages at home to Stoke, who had gone into the game looking to protect a 10-match unbeaten run.

Pablo Zabaleta broke the deadlock two minutes before half-time, rolling the ball into an empty net after visiting goalkeeper Asmir Begovic touched away James Milner’s low cross with his foot.

Sergio Aguero was the creator of City’s second in the 56th minute with a low drive that was parried by Begovic, only for Edin Dzeko to turn the loose ball home.

Aguero scored a 74th-minute penalty after Steven Nzonzi was adjudged to have tripped David Silva, but the Argentine had to leave the fray moments later after sustaining a hamstring injury.

City assistant coach David Platt said that Aguero would “certainly” miss Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie with Watford and was “doubtful” for the following weekend’s trip to Arsenal in the league.

Tottenham fell behind in the fifth minute against Reading when Pavel Pogrebnyak headed the visitors in front, but Michael Dawson’s header meant the hosts were level within five minutes.

Spurs were dominant from then on, Emmanuel Adebayor putting them in front with a powerful 51st-minute header before Clint Dempsey’s fortuitous deflected strike made it 3-1.

Victory took Spurs a point clear of Chelsea, who have two games in hand and host bottom club Queens Park Rangers tonight.

Arsenal were prevented from making ground on the top four after their four-game winning run came to an end in a 1-1 draw at Southampton that left Arsene Wenger’s side four points below Chelsea in fifth place.

Gaston Ramirez exploited some calamitous Arsenal defending to put Southampton ahead in the 34th minute, but a Guly do Prado own goal meant the visitors were level before half-time.

The point was nonetheless enough to take Nigel Adkins’s side out of the bottom three at Wigan’s expense.

Aston Villa put an end to a run of three straight defeats with a 2-2 draw at Swansea City, but were denied victory by a 95th-minute goal from Danny Graham.

Christian Benteke had put Villa ahead with an 84th-minute penalty, after Wayne Routledge’s ninth-minute opener for the hosts had been cancelled out by Andreas Weimann.

Premier League

Man. City 3
Zabaleta 43; Dzeko 56; Aguero 74 pen;
Stoke City 0

HT: 1-0. Att: 47,192.

Southampton 1
Ramirez 35;
Arsenal 1
Do Prado 41og;

HT: 1-1. Att: 31,743.

Swansea 2
Routledge 9; Graham 90;
Aston Villa 2
Weimann 44; Benteke 84 pen;

HT: 1-1. Att: 20,406.

Tottenham 3
Dawson 10; Adebayor 51; Dempsey 79;
Reading 1
Pogrebnyak 5;

HT: 1-1. Att: 36,180.

West Brom 1
Lukaku 49;
Fulham 2
Berbatov 39; Kacaniklic 58;

HT: 0-1. Att: 24,436.

West Ham 2
Noble 3 pen; O’Brien 26;
Norwich 1
Martin 90;

HT: 2-0. Att: 35,005.

Wigan 0
Man. United 4
Hernandez 35, 63; Van Persie 43, 88;

HT: 0-2. Att: 20,342.

  P W D L F A Pts
Man. United 21 17 1 3 54 28 52
Man. City 21 13 6 2 41 19 45
Tottenham 21 12 3 6 39 27 39
Chelsea 19 11 5 3 39 18 38
Arsenal 20 9 7 4 40 22 34
Everton 20 8 9 3 33 25 33
West Brom 21 10 3 8 29 27 33
Swansea City 21 7 8 6 31 26 29
Stoke City 21 6 11 4 21 20 29
Liverpool 20 7 7 6 31 26 28
West Ham 20 7 5 8 24 24 26
Norwich City 21 6 7 8 24 34 25
Fulham 21 6 6 9 32 37 24
Sunderland 20 5 7 8 21 26 22
Newcastle 20 5 5 10 26 37 20
Aston Villa 21 4 7 10 17 41 19
Southampton 20 4 6 10 27 38 18
Wigan 21 5 3 13 22 39 18
Reading 21 2 7 12 23 40 13
QPR 20 1 7 12 16 36 10

Playing today
Chelsea vs QPR - 20.45
Liverpool vs Sunderland - 20.45
Newcastle vs Everton - 21.00

Top scorers
16 goals: Van Persie (Man. United).
13 goals: Michu (Swansea City), Ba (Newcastle), Suarez (Liverpool).
10 goals: Defoe (Tottenham).
9 goals: Dzeko (Man. City), Bale (Tottenham).

Next fixtures
January 5-7: FA Cup third round.
January 12: Premier League 16.00 Aston Villa vs Southampton; Everton vs Swansea; Fulham vs Wigan; Norwich vs Newcastle; Reading vs West Brom; Stoke vs Chelsea; Sunderland vs West Ham.
January 13: Premier League 14.30 Manchester United vs Liverpool. 17.00 Arsenal vs Manchester City.
January 14: Premier League 21.00 QPR vs Tottenham.

The Championship
Birmingham 0 - Cardiff 1
Blackburn 3 - N. Forest 0
Blackpool 0 - Hull City 0
C. Palace 3 - Wolves 1
Derby County 3 - M’boro 1
Ipswich 0 - Brighton 3
Leeds 1 - Bolton 0
Leicester 6 - Huddersfield 1
Millwall 2 - Bristol City 1
Peterborough 2 - Barnsley 1
Sheffield Wed. 0 - Burnley 2
Watford 3 - Charlton 4

Standings: Cardiff 56; Hull 49; C. Palace, M’Boro 47; Leicester 44; Watford, Millwall 40; Leeds 38; Brighton, Derby, N. Forest 37; Burnley 36; Blackburn 35; Blackpool 34; Charlton 33; Bolton, Huddersfield 32; Wolves 31; Ipswich 30; Birmingham 29; Peterborough, Sheffield Wed. 25; Bristol City 22; Barnsley 21.

League One
Swindon 5 - Portsmouth 0
Brentford 0 - Bournemouth 0
Bury 0 - Tranmere 1
Coventry 0 - Shrewsbury 1
Crawley 3 - Colchester 0
Crewe 1 - Carlisle 0
Doncaster 2 - Sheff. United 2
Hartlepool 0 - Preston 1
Notts County 1 - MK Dons 2
Scunthorpe 2 - Oldham 2
Walsall 1 - Stevenage 0
Yeovil 3 - Leyton Orient 0

Standings: Tranmere 50; Sheffield United, Doncaster 47; Brentford 46; Swindon, MK Dons, Bournemouth 42; Crawley 41; Yeovil, Crewe 39; Coventry, Stevenage 37; Notts County 36; Preston, Leyton Orient 34; Walsall 32; Carlisle 29; Shrewsbury 28; Oldham 27; Colchester 23; Ports-mouth, Bury, Scunthorpe 21; Hartlepool 12.

League Two
Bristol Rovers 2 - Plymouth 1
Southend 0 - Gillingham 1
Accrington 1 - Chesterfield 0
Barnet 0 - Aldershot 1
Morecambe 0 - Bradford 0
Northampton 3 - Dagenham 1
Oxford 1 - Cheltenham 0
Port Vale 0 - Fleetwood 2
Rochdale 1 - Rotherham 2
Torquay 2 - Wimbledon 3
Wycombe 0 - Exeter 1
York 3 - Burton Albion 0

Standings: Gillingham 48; Port Vale 46; Rotherham 43; Cheltenham 42; Southend, Fleetwood, Bradford 40; Burton 39; Exeter 38; Northampton, Chesterfield, Rochdale 36; Oxford 35; York 34; Torquay 33; Dagenham 31; Accrington 30; Morecambe, Wycombe 29; Aldershot 25; Plymouth 24; Barnet 23; Bristol Rovers, AFC Wimbledon 22.

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