United stay six points clear with another win

Aguero inspires City to 3-1 victory over Newcastle

Robin van Persie was back on target for Manchester United as the Premier League leaders swept aside Sunderland 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday to stay six points clear at the top.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring his team’s first goal against Newcastle United during their English Premier League match on Saturday. AFP

United were 2-0 up after 19 minutes, Van Persie opening the scoring with a left-foot finish from close range for his 12th league goal of the season and Tom Cleverley adding a quickfire second three minutes later.

England striker Wayne Rooney, who had been doubtful due to midweek sickness, made it 3-0 in the 59th minute before substitute Fraizer Campbell pulled one back with a header four minutes after coming on.

Champions Manchester City, beaten 3-2 by United in last weekend's derby after an agonising Van Persie stoppage-time winner, had earlier beaten Newcastle United 3-1 at St James' Park.  Manchester United now have 42 points to City's 36 while European champions Chelsea, who were not in action due to their Club World Cup final in Japan on Sunday, remained third on 29 points with a game in hand.

A clinical early strike by Argentine Sergio Aguero helped City on their way. Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure split the defence with a superb pass to find Samir Nasri, adjudged to be just onside, who rolled the ball back for striker Aguero to stroke home.

Nasri, mockingly described by City manager Roberto Mancini as only half a man in the defensive wall that failed to keep out Robin van Persie’s winner last Sunday, did his best to make amends with a spirited but short-lived performance.

Javi Garcia then headed City’s second, the Spaniard climbing high to meet a corner that Santon might have cleared off the line had the Italian defender not been completely wrong-footed. City, with no room for Mario Balotelli even on the bench after Mancini said the mercurial Italian needed to train more, looked in control until Demba Ba got Newcastle back into the match with a powerful header six minutes after the break.

However, a 78th minute strike from Toure calmed City's nerves with the Ivorian poking the ball through the home defence. Defeat for Newcastle left them in danger of tipping into the relegation places, with the club two points above the drop zone with a haul of 17 points from 17 matches.

Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers celebrated their first win of the season after beating west London rivals Fulham 2-1 thanks to two-goal Adel Taarabt to end a record run of 16 matches without a victory and move off the foot of the table.

Aston Villa fans had plenty to cheer after a fighting 3-1 win at Liverpool moved them three points clear of the relegation zone. Christian Benteke scored in each half at Anfield with Andreas Weimann grabbing the other goal for Villa who were 2-0 up at halftime. Steven Gerrard headed an 87th-minute consolation for Liverpool.
Norwich City beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 while Stoke City and Everton drew 1-1.

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