United strikers red hot at Wigan

Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 00:00

Premier League review:Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie both scored twice as leaders Manchester United beat Wigan 4-0 to begin the year in style, while Manchester City stayed in touch with a win over Stoke City and Tottenham moved third with a 3-1 victory over Reading. Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton at St Mary's.

United's Mexican striker Hernandez might have had a hat-trick had an effort prior to his 35th minute opener at the DW Stadium not been ruled out.

Van Persie doubled United’s lead in the 43rd minute and it was the Dutchman’s free-kick that ballooned up to present Hernandez with his chance to net again in the 63rd minute.

The striker’s volley ended Wigan’s hopes of any reward and Van Persie fired a late fourth as United passed the 50-point mark, taking their haul to 52 from 21 games this season.

“We knew we were getting a top player who would make a difference to the team,” said Alex Ferguson of Van Persie afterwards. “That is why we went for him. Robin is a completely rounded footballer. He has great international experience, he’s played for Arsenal for seven years and he came to us at the very peak of his career.

“His ability to make and take goals is fantastic. His play for his first goal was absolutely magnificent, his turn, his balance, no drawback, just side footed it in. It was a really good goal.”

Ferguson’s side continue to head nearest rivals Manchester City by seven points as they attempt to claw back the league title from their neighbours.

Full-back Pablo Zabaleta inched Citytowards a 3-0 win against Stokewhen he scored in the 43rd minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Edin Dzeko doubled the lead after 56 minutes when Sergio Aguero saw a shot pushed out, and Aguero fired a 74th-minute penalty to complete the scoring after Steven Nzonzi fouled David Silva.

Aguero limped off afterwards, with a hamstring problem and looks set to miss Saturday's FA Cup third-round match with second tier Watford at least.

"It's difficult to assess an injury like that and how long it is going to be. Certainly on Saturday he will be out and my experience would say he will be doubtful for Arsenal (on January 13th)," said City's assistant boss David Platt. "But it is far too early to tell. There will be a lot of swelling in there and a bit of bleeding and, to be honest, we won't know for 48 hours how quickly it is going to settle down."

Southamptonmoved out of the bottom three with a thoroughly deserved win over the Gunnersin the evening kick-off.

Gaston Ramirez gave the homeside the lead after some calamitous defending from the visitors in the 34th minute but Arsene Wenger's side struck back seven minutes later, thanks to an own goal from Guly Do Prado, who deflected Theo Walcott's free-kick into his own net.

Arsenal could not create much more, however, and had Ramirez not been harshly ruled to have pushed Laurent Koscielny before firing into the Gunners net in the second half, it would have been the hosts who claimed all three points.

The Londoners remain fifth, four points behind Chelsea in fourth having played a game more.

Tottenhamclimbed to third place, a point ahead of Chelsea who have two games in hand, after a 3-1 home win over second-bottom side Reading.

Andre Villas-Boas saw his side fall behind to a Pavel Pogrebnyak effort in the fourth minute, but Michael Dawson headed the hosts level in the ninth minute and Emmanuel Adebayor edged them ahead six minutes into the second half.

Clint Dempsey made the points safe, with his shot benefiting from a deflection as it beat Adam Federici for the third Tottenham goal in the 79th minute.

“It was important for him today to score,” said Villas-Boas of Adebayor. “He had a couple of situations recently against Sunderland and Villa, it was important for him to get back into the goals. Strikers live off goals, it was important for him to score. You see him trying like Jermain Defoe, Clint, and how decisive he is also.

“They want to get in the box, they breathe off scoring goals and it will give him a boost for sure.”

Danny Graham cracked home a late equaliser for Swanseaagainst Aston Villato earn a 2-2 draw.

Visitors Villa had fallen behind to Wayne Routledge’s ninth-minute finish, after he surged clear of a static defence to round goalkeeper Brad Guzan. But the outlook improved for Paul Lambert’s side just before the break when Andreas Weimann netted an equaliser in the 44th minute.

Christian Benteke’s penalty after Nathan Dyer’s foul on Weimann put Villa ahead, as they looked to banish memories of dismal recent results. But Graham had the final say, his powerful finish with time running out sparking delight among home supporters at the Liberty Stadium.

A third-minute penalty from Mark Noble and Republic of Ireland defender Joey O’Brien’s strike in the 26th minute gave West Hama 2-0 cushion against Norwichat Upton Park. Russell Martin pulled one back for Norwich late in the second half but the Canaries could not find a leveller.

“The key decisions in the game did not go in our favour, but we did not start well enough,” said Norwich manager Chris Hughton, who confronted referee Mark Clattenburg as he left the pitch at both half-time and following the full-time whistle. “We accept Ryan Bennett had hold of the lad’s shirt, but I also saw Reid’s forearm in Ryan’s chest. They are very close, he is not pulling Reid so he cannot get away, it is something you see game in and game out right throughout the country.

“On almost every occasion you do not see a penalty, particularly when it is so early in the game, so I was very surprised when he gave it. I also don’t accept it was not a foul on Alex Tettey leading up to the second goal and certainly was a handball in the first half and then the incident on Harry Kane.

“We have been on the end of poor decisions today.”

Earlier, Fulhameased their relegation worries as Alexander Kacaniklic’s second-half goal earned them a 2-1 win at West Brom.

The Cottagers had slid towards the bottom three after winning only one of their previous 12 games but were well worth their second away success of the campaign.

Dimitar Berbatov’s seventh goal of the season gave the Cottagers a half-time lead and although Romelu Lukaku levelled after the break, Kacaniklic restored the visitors’ advantage in the 58th minute.

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