Premier League Boxing Day Wrap

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterDecember 26, 2012

Premier League Boxing Day Wrap

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    Manchester United opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the Premier League after claiming a late winner in a thrilling match with Newcastle United.

    Reigning champions Manchester City slipped up at Sunderland, but Chelsea continued their winning run under Rafael Benitez.

    Gareth Bale struck a hat-trick as Tottenham piled on the Christmas misery for Aston Villa with a 4-0 win at Villa Park.

    Everton and West Brom continued their winning form, while Reading moved off the bottom of the table.

Manchester United 4, Newcastle 3

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    Javier Hernandez claimed a last-minute winner against Newcastle to extend Manchester United’s lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points.

    United fell behind three times during the thrilling encounter before the Mexico international delivered a late winner.

    Newcastle stunned United when they opened the scoring in the fourth minute.

    Michael Carrick lost possession, allowing Demba Ba to close in on goal and shoot from 20 yards.

    United goalkeeper David de Gea could only the palm the strike to the feet of James Perch, who rattled home for his first goal in 64 games.

    United were level in the 25th minute though when Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul saved well from a Hernandez effort.

    However, the goalkeeper could only watch as United defender Jonny Evans slotted home into an empty net.

    But Evans, unwittingly, put Newcastle ahead three minutes later. Danny Simpson fired in a low cross for Papiss Cisse, who was in an offside position. However, the ball was turned into his own net by Evans.

    The strike was initially ruled out for offside, but after referee Mike Dean consulted with his linesman, the goal was deemed legal to give Newcastle a 2-1 lead.

    United were level in the 58th minute, though, when Perch headed a corner away as far as Patrice Evra on the edge of the box. The French defender took one touch before sending the ball past Krul.

    Newcastle restored their lead in the 68th minute when substitute Gabriel Obertan sprinted down the left before cutting the ball back for Cisse to drill home.

    But the lead lasted just three minutes when Robin van Persie saw his initial shot stopped by Krul but was on hand to drive home the rebound.

    Then, in the final minute, Carrick’s cross was converted by Hernandez to clinch the points.

Sunderland 1 Manchester City 0

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    Adam Johnson returned to haunt his former Manchester City employers with the only goal of the game for Sunderland.

    City went close early on when Vincent Kompany struck the crossbar with a header before Yaya Toure’s follow-up shot was well saved by the feet of Simon Mignolet.

    Mignolet then saved well from Toure’s 20-yard drive in the 15th minute, but City goalkeeper Joe Hart then made a tremendous stop to deny Steven Fletcher’s effort.

    However, Hart was at fault as Sunderland claimed the opener eight minutes after the interval through Johnson.

    The former City winger cut in from the left before firing at the England international, but Hart misjudged the strike and allowed it to slip through his hands.

Norwich 0 Chelsea 1

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    Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea’s excellent run of form continued at Norwich.

    Interim manager Rafael Benitez has overseen a resurgence in fortune for the Stamford Bridge club, including an eight-goal drubbing of Aston Villa on Sunday.

    And Mata’s 13th goal of the season for Chelsea closed the gap on second-placed Manchester City to four points.

    Chelsea opened the scoring seven minutes before the interval when Oscar wriggled out of a challenge and poked the ball to Mata.

    The Spanish midfielder managed to get the ball out from under his feet before sending it past Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn.

Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 4

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    Gareth Bale inspired Tottenham to a four-goal win at Aston Villa with his hat-trick.

    Jermain Defoe had opened the scoring for the visitors in the 57th minute after Villa held back Spurs in the opening period.

    Spurs moved up to fourth in the table with the win, while Villa have now conceded 12 goals in their last two matches following the 8-0 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday.

    Tottenham dominated possession in the opening period but could find no way past a resilient Villa rearguard and goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

    But the deadlock was broken when Kyle Naughton’s through ball allowed England international Defoe to stroke home the opener.

    Bale had been denied twice by Guzan in the first half, but the United States international hesitated in the 61st minute to allow the winger to waltz around him for Tottenham’s second.

    The Wales international added his second in the 73rd minute when he collected the ball after a great passing movement between Aaron Lennon, Scott Parker and Kyle Walker.

    Bale completed his treble when he connected with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 84th-minute cutback.

Everton 2 Wigan Athletic 1

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    Goals from Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka gave Everton all three points against Wigan Athletic at Goodison Park.

    Arouna Kone pulled a late goal back for the Latics, but Roberto Martinez’s team were left to rue the decision not to award them a second-half penalty.

    After an uneventful first half, Thomas Hitzlsperger struck the crossbar from 45 yards for Everton before Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi saved well from Osman.

    Osman picked up the ball outside the area and attempted to guide the ball home, but the effort deflected off Gary Caldwell and away from Al-Habsi to give Everton the lead in the 52nd minute.

    But Wigan were left enraged when their claims for a penalty were dismissed when Shaun Maloney went down under a challenge from Osman. Maloney was even cautioned for his complaints to match official Lee Mason.

    The Wigan protests were given added weight as Everton added a second when Jagielka headed home a Phil Neville cross in the 77th minute.

    Wigan hauled themselves back into the game five minutes later when Kone poked home from a long ball forward that was missed by Jagielka and Leighton Baines.

QPR 1 West Brom 2

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    West Brom won in London for the first time in 11 games as Queens Park Rangers slipped to the foot of the Premier League table.

    Goals from Chris Brunt and a Rob Green own goal were enough to see Albion claim the points, although Djibril Cisse’s late strike ensured a nervy finish for the visitors.

    Brunt made a tremendous run through the middle in the 29th minute; the ball was played into his path, and he fired home from around 30 yards.

    Adel Taarabt almost drew QPR level, but his curling free kick was just inches wide.

    Albion went further ahead four minutes after the break with a controversial second goal.

    QPR defender Anton Ferdinand failed to deal with a corner properly, heading the ball high above the penalty area.

    As it returned, QPR goalkeeper Rob Green attempted to push it over the bar but appeared to be impeded by Marc-Antoine Fortune and pushed the ball into his own net.

    Green atoned with a fine save from Romelu Lukaku before Cisse gave QPR a lifeline when he fired home after being found by a ball from Stephane Mbia.

Fulham 1 Southampton 1

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    Southampton left it late to snatch a point at Fulham through Rickie Lambert’s penalty.

    Dimitar Berbatov had given Fulham an early lead, but, after Chris Baird handled late on in the match, Lambert drew the Saints level.

    Fulham opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis could only get a hand to Sascha Riether’s cross.

    The ball dropped for Berbatov, who was on hand to give Fulham the lead in the eighth minute.

    However, with just five minutes remaining, Fulham defender Baird handled inside the area under pressure from Lambert to gift Southampton the chance to equalize.

    Lambert stepped up for the spot kick, and although Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer got a hand to the ball, the striker drew the Saints level.

Reading 0 Swansea 0

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    Reading lifted themselves off the foot of the Premier League table with a goalless draw against Swansea City.

    But the Royals were left to rue a goal-line clearance by Chico Flores, which denied them a full three points at the Madejski Stadium.

    Reading striker Adam le Fondre was at the heart of the home side’s best attempts, but his second-half handball was spotted by the match official and the goal was disallowed.

    However, the forward was denied the winning goal late on in the match when Flores was on hand to head clear the danger on the line from the striker’s drive from the edge of the area.

    But there was concern for Swansea when leading goal scorer Michu limped from the field in the 80th minute.

Stoke City 3 Liverpool 1

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    Stoke City came from behind to defeat Liverpool 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium.

    Steven Gerrard had given the Merseysiders a second-minute lead from the penalty spot after Luis Suarez had been fouled by Ryan Shawcross.

    But the Potters struck back just three minutes later when striker Jon Walters raced clear to slot the ball past Pepe Reina.

    Then, in the 12th minute, Stoke striker Kenwyne Jones headed home from a Glenn Whelan corner.

    Four minutes after the interval, Walters added a third for Stoke when he latched onto a Jones flick as the home side extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.