Rooney maintained Manchester United's handy knack of overturning
deficits with two goals as the leaders beat Southampton 2-1 at Old
Trafford to move seven points clear in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Manchester City's 0-0 draw at bottom club Queens Park Rangers 24 hours
earlier paved the way for United to widen the gap but Jay Rodriguez
silenced the home crowd after three minutes before Rooney's double
restored order before half-time.
from Everton, the clubs battling for top-four finishes and Champions
League qualification suffered frustration, none more so than
third-placed Chelsea who threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at
struggling Reading for whom substitute Adam Le Fondre struck twice in
the closing stages.
remain four points clear of Tottenham Hotspur who needed a superb Gareth
Bale equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Norwich City while sixth-placed Arsenal
drew 2-2 at home to Liverpool having trailed 2-0 with half an hour
Luis Suarez gave
Liverpool an early lead and Jordan Henderson made it 2-0 on the hour
after some terrible Arsenal defending but Olivier Giroud and Theo
Walcott earned the Gunners a deserved point from an entertaining clash.
Everton cashed in on the dropped points of those around them in the
table with a 2-1 home victory over West Bromwich Albion to move one
point behind Tottenham, three clear of Arsenal and six ahead of
In a London derby alongside the River Thames, Fulham beat West Ham United 3-1.
of United's previous 18 league wins this season had come from losing
positions and they needed to dig in again after Rodriquez punished a
poor Michael Carrick back pass to give Southampton a dream start at a
ground where they had lost on 15 of their last 16 visits.
were stunned into life though and were level five minutes later when
Shinji Kagawa's defence-splitting pass was finished stylishly by Rooney.
England striker then tapped in from close range after 27 minutes but
the expected United domination failed to materialise as Southampton made
it an awkward night for the leaders.
"Winning is the name of the game at this stage of the season," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.
the first 30 minutes I thought we were fantastic, we played really
well. But in the second half Southampton have been the best team to play
here this season.
"We were fortunate to win the game."
Southampton might have earned a draw late on when Rickie Lambert's free-kick forced a flying save from David de Gea.
took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Juan Mata and Frank
Lampard's thumping header should have secured the points for Rafa
Benitez's team but they suffered a late ambush.
Fondre, who came on after 66 minutes, gave Reading hope when he drilled
in a shot after 87 minutes and deep into stoppage he calmly side-footed
his side's equaliser to move his side out of the bottom three.
He has now scored six goals after coming on as substitute this season, more than any other player in the top flight.
Benitez was not impressed with his side's collapse.
"The atmosphere was not good in the dressing room," he said. "It's very difficult to take."
of discontent were growing around Emirates Stadium as Arsenal's
Swiss-cheese defence allowed Liverpool into a two-goal lead although
their response was impressive.
benefited from a catalogue of stumbles, slips and poor clearances to
bag his 17th league goal of the season early on and Henderson managed to
get through several attempted tackles to put Liverpool two up after 60
Giroud then headed Arsenal back into the game and Walcott's sizzling finish completed Arsenal's recovery.
Both sides could have emerged victorious but had to settle for a point apiece.
"It was a great football game and both teams gave it everything," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
were outstanding going forward but nervous defensively. I think recent
accidents against Manchester City and Chelsea affected the heads of the
woeful in the first half against Norwich but new signing Lewis Holtby
made an impressive debut as a second-half substitute and set Bale away
for a spectacular solo goal.
Andre Villas-Boas' side then went all-out for the winner but Norwich held on for a point.
wanted to profit from the Arsenal versus Liverpool game, but we did not
have enough time to get a winner," the Portuguese coach said. "The draw
was a fair result.
"Holtby made a difference, it is a major coup for us."
Baines scored twice for Everton who are breathing down the neck of
Tottenham with 14 matches left - a good end to a day when a deal to sign
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