Terry heads Chelsea to victory over Man United

Londoners pull five points clear of Arsenal at the top


Chelsea’s John Terry exults after scoring against Manchester United in the Premier League clash on Sunday. AP

The eagerly-awaited showdown had been meandering towards a disappointing goalless draw until Terry was left unmarked to glance in a Frank Lampard freekick -- with striker Nicolas Anelka claiming he got the final touch.

The victory took Chelsea to 30 points, five clear of Arsenal, who won 4-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, and United.

Tottenham Hotspur are fourth on 22 after they beat Sunderland 2-0 on Saturday, while Aston Villa climbed to fifth with a 5-1 hammering of Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park. Liverpool host Birmingham City on Monday.

Earlier on Sunday, Hull City beat visitors Stoke City 2-1 with a stoppage-time goal, Everton won 2-1 at West Ham United while Wigan Athletic drew 1-1 at home to Fulham.

However, all eyes were on Stamford Bridge this weekend, even though for the most part the big game failed to deliver.

United were without first-choice centre-halves Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic but stand-ins Wes Brown and Jonny Evans were barely tested in a game high on errors and short on goalmouth action. Chelsea's defence was similarly comfortable, despite the willing running of United striker Wayne Rooney, and the first hour passed without either goalkeeper seriously troubled.

The absence of Ferdinand and Vidic proved key, however, eight minutes later when United's defence got hopelessly confused defending a straightforward Lampard freekick from the left.

Terry reached it first but Anelka and his strike partner Didier Drogba were also in the vicinity -- unlike any United defenders.

The champions upped the tempo after that but, with Dimitar Berbatov also absent through injury, too much fell on Rooney's shoulders and the Chelsea defenders were able to crowd him out.

Terry, whose day began with some unwelcome tabloid headlines about his family, was delighted.  "I want it (the goal) because I've never scored against Manchester United home or away, but Nicolas was brilliant today so he can have it," he told Sky Sports. Earlier, an injury-time goal by Jan Venegoor of Hesselink gave Hull a home win over Stoke to ease the pressure on manager Phil Brown.

Brown's position was under threat after Hull's poor start to their second season in the top flight but Sunday's victory, their third in 12 games, bought him some time.

Matthew Etherington put Stoke ahead in the 29th minute with Seyi Olofinjana curling in a neat equaliser after 62 before Venegoor cashed in on a blunder by Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen.  Everton’s victory over West Ham United put an end a run of seven games without a win in all competitions.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Manchester City's hopes of threatening the top four were hit by a fifth consecutive draw. City drew 3-3 with Burnley after having battled back from a two-goal deficit to lead with three minutes remaining.

Arsenal took their goal tally to 36 in 11 league games with captain Cesc Fabregas again magnificent as he scored his ninth goal of the season. Arsenal's first two goals were scored by Wolves players.
Fabregas finished off a flowing move to make the second half academic and Andrei Arshavin rifled in a shot to make it 4-0 before Craddock scored a late consolation.

Spanish league

Pedro netted twice and Thierry Henry scored his first of the season to set leaders Barcelona on their way to a 4-2 win over Real Mallorca in La Liga on Saturday that kept the champions a point clear of Real Madrid.

Second-placed Real, missing the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, held on for a 3-2 win at city rivals Atletico in the late match despite going down to 10 men in the 66th minute. 

Real were cruising after Brazilians Kaka and Marcelo scored first-half goals and Gonzalo Higuain added a third on 64 minutes, before Sergio Ramos was shown a straight red for a foul on Sergio Aguero.

Roared on by the home crowd, Diego Forlan pulled a goal back with 11 minutes of regular time left, Aguero added another three minutes later and Iker Casillas produced a superb save to deny the Argentina striker at the death as Real held firm.

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