United top as Baggies move third

Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 00:00

Premier League review:New QPR manager Harry Redknapp watched from the Old Trafford stands as the visitors surrendered a second-half lead en route to a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United. The bottom side, under the temporary guidance of Mark Bowen, took the lead in the 52nd minute when Jamie Mackie pounced from close range after Anders Lindegaard parried Kieron Dyer’s cross-shot.

But the London team were swiftly undone by two set-pieces, Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher both on target with headers from Wayne Rooney corners, before Anderson surged forwards and set up Javier Hernandez for a cool finish to settle matters.

Redknapp, 65, was this morning given a two-and-a-half-year contract by Rangers - just 24 hours on from Mark Hughes’s sacking — but will not take charge of the team until Tuesday’s game at Sunderland.

Victory took United back to the top of the Premier League standings ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Chelsea tomorrow.

Aston Villaclimbed out of the bottom three with a deserved share of the spoils against Arsenalat Villa Park, but a single point did little to bolster Arsene Wenger’s hopes of re-igniting his side's hopes of a top-four finish. They lie sixth, a point behind Everton and one ahead of West Ham United, who play Tottenham away tomorrow.

Arsenal needed a fine save from Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to deny Villa substitute Brett Holman a late winner.

Home boss Paul Lambert was forced to watch the game from the stands after his one match ban but would have taken great heart from the way his side performed against the Gunners.

Republic of Ireland central defender Ciaran Clark had a fine game in limiting the threat of the in-form Lukas Podolski and securing his side’s third clean sheet of the season.

Ireland striker Shane Long scored again as West Bromwich Albionmoved up to third, at least until Chelsea play on tomorrow, winning 4-2 at Sunderlandin the early match of the day.

A fourth successive league win moved West Brom on to 26 points from 13 matches, with only champions Manchester United (30) and Manchester City (28) above them.

West Brom, complete outsiders at the start of the season, went ahead at the Stadium of Light with a superb shot from Zoltan Gera after 30 minutes which goalkeeper Simon Mignolet could only get a hand to. Long doubled the score a minute before the break when Mignolet failed to hold a shot from Chris Brunt, with Long left with the easiest of touches after the ball squirmed from Mignolet's reach.

Craig Gardner pulled a goal back for Sunderland with a deflected free kick before substitute Romelu Lukaku made it 3-1 from the penalty spot nine minutes from time.

Stephane Sessegnon gave the home side a glimmer of hope with their second three minutes from time, but West Brom made sure of the three points when substitute Marc-Antoine Fortuné fired home with the last kick of the game.

Asked if West Brom could replicate what former club Newcastle did last season and mount a sustained assault on the big guns, manager Steve Clarke insisted he was looking only as far ahead as Wednesday night’s trip to Swansea.

“I don’t know. I don’t know is the honest answer," he said. “All I know is up until now, we have done very well. We have had a lot of plaudits and the players deserve it because so far, we have been a really good team. But you don’t get carried away in the Premier League. We are still this side of Christmas, there are a lot of games to be played, a lot of points to be fought for.

“Our focus is on Wednesday night, that’s as far ahead as we look.”

In the other 3pm kick-offs, Jordi Gomez’s hat-trick spared Ali Al Habsi’s blushes as Wiganovercame Reading3-2, Evertonand Norwichdrew 1-1 and Stokeedged Fulham1-0.

Sean Morrison’s first goal for the Royals — a fine header into the top corner from Nicky Shorey’s cross — had earned the visitors an interval lead at the DW Stadium.

But Gomez equalised 13 minutes into the second period, lashing high into the net after his initial low effort from substitute Franco Di Santo’s cross had been parried by Adam Federici, and then grabbed a second 10 minutes later with a superb diving header from Jean Beausejour’s cross.

Ten minutes from time, Hal Robson-Kanu’s blocked shot looped high into the air and Al Habsi — seemingly expecting to be put under more pressure than he was — fumbled the ball under his crossbar and looked on helplessly as it trickled over the line. However, Gomez was not done, and swept home from Arouna Kone’s pass in stoppage time to complete his treble.

There was also late drama at Goodison Park, where Sebastien Bassong’s 90th-minute diving header from Javier Garrido’s free-kick earned the Canaries a point. Steven Naismith had given the Toffees a 12th-minute lead.

Finally, Charlie Adam’s 26th-minute goal secured Stoke a 1-0 win against Fulham at the Britannia Stadium, the Scotland midfielder the beneficiary of the knockdown after Peter Crouch comfortably beat Philippe Senderos in the air.

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