Premier League Round-Up: Rooney Extends Man Utd Lead as City Slip Up at Everton
Sir Alex Ferguson's side took full advantage of Manchester City's 2-0 defeat to Everton earlier in the day as they piled further misery on the managerless Royals, who are now seven points from safety after sacking Brian McDermott this week.
Everton restored their pride with the win over City at Goodison Park after the insipid display in the FA Cup quarterfinal defeat to Wigan last weekend.
Manchester United 1, Reading 0
Wayne Rooney scored the only goal of the game as Manchester United claimed victory over Reading at Old Trafford. Rio Ferdinand marked his return to the England squad with a marauding run from defence before laying the ball off to international teammate Rooney to open the scoring in the 21st minute.
But there was little else to entertain the Old Trafford crowd in a disappointing first period that produced only long-range efforts from Rooney and Robin van Persie to lift the home supporters.
Reading striker Hal Robson-Kanu also came close in the 32nd minute with a 25-yard drive which went just wide of David De Gea's goal.
This was a relatively unimpressive display by the league leaders, especially in the final third of the field.
Rooney's attempted chip over Reading goalkeeper Stuart Taylor which sailed high over the crossbar midway through the second period was testament to that.
Taylor then made a fine save from Ryan Giggs when the veteran's cross-cum-shot was deflected toward goal, but the Royals goalkeeper turned it around the post.
A comparatively unimpressive United held on to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Everton 2, Manchester City 0
Everton restored their pride with a tremendous 2-0 win over Manchester City, which also extinguished Roberto Mancini's slim hopes of regaining the Premier League.
Everton were much improved from last week's 3-0 losing display against Wigan and were denied an opening goal for Kevin Mirallas by a close offside decision.
Everton could also have had a first-half penalty when Marouane Fellaini was impeded by City defender Matija Nastasic.
But on the hour mark, Everton were reduced to 10 men when Steven Pienaar was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card for a bad challenge on City midfielder Javi Garcia.
The home side were fortunate not to concede a spot kick with four minutes left when Carlos Tevez's strike met the arms of Fellaini inside the area. But referee Lee Probert instead awarded a free kick on the edge of the area, which came to nothing.
But there was further joy for Everton in injury time when Jelavic, who had replaced Victor Anichebe moments earlier, was set up by Fellaini on the edge of the area and curled the ball beyond Gael Clichy and Hart for his first Premier League goal since Dec. 9.
Aston Villa 3, Queens Park Rangers 2
Christian Benteke was the hero for Aston Villa as they eased their relegation worries with a thrilling 3-2 win over fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers at Villa Park.
QPR were in charge in the opening stages of the game, and Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan twice denied Christopher Samba with excellent saves.
Villa were dealt a blow when defender Nathan Baker was forced out of the game after suffering an injury in a challenge on Samba.
QPR were rewarded for their early dominance in the 23rd minute when Jermaine Jenas won the ball off substitute Joe Bennett and played it out to Bobby Zamora. The former Fulham forward saw his shot saved by the legs of Guzan, but Jenas was there to slot home the rebound, making it 1-0 to the visitors.
But on the stroke of halftime, Jose Bosingwa's free kick struck the post and Villa quickly counterattacked. Matthew Lowton delivered a cross to the far post for Gabriel Agbonlahor to head home the equaliser.
QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar produced a fine save on an Andreas Weimann effort, but the striker would not be denied in the 59th minute when he drilled home a Joe Bennett pass.
In the 73rd minute, former Manchester United midfielder Park-ji Sung played the ball to January signing Andros Townsend, who scored in the win over Sunderland last week, at the edge of the area, and his deflected strike wrong-footed Guzan.
Moments later, though, Weimann chased down a long ball and hooked into the area, where Benteke collected well before skipping past Samba and beating Cesar with nine minutes remaining.
Swansea City 0, Arsenal 2
Arsenal continued their good week with a 2-0 win over Swansea City, courtesy of goals from two unlikely heroes.
After their midweek heroics in the win at Bayern Munich, Arsenal were handed an early warning by Swansea when Angel Rangel and Michu both went close for the Welsh team.
However, the Gunners were not without their chances in the opening half, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain twice struck the woodwork for Arsene Wenger's side.
It was Arsenal who opened the scoring in the 74th minute through an unlikely source. Full-back Nacho Monreal had not scored since joining the club from Malaga in January, but his scuffed strike managed to evade Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm and give the Gunners the lead.
And much-maligned Gervinho, who had replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 71st minute, wrapped up the win in the final minute when he ran one-on-one with Vorm and slotted the ball past the Swansea goalkeeper.
Southampton 3, Liverpool 1
Southampton eased their relegation fears with a 3-1 win over Liverpool at St. Mary's Stadium.
Southampton took the lead in the sixth minute through Morgan Schneiderlin. After good buildup play by Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana, Gaston Ramirez's cross was nodded down by Jay Rodriguez before Schneiderlin got in ahead of Daniel Agger to score.
Moments later, Lambert beat the offside trap, and Liverpool were grateful to goalkeeper Brad Jones' swift reactions to come out and block the chance.
Southampton were in control of the first half, especially after Lambert added a second goal in the 33rd minute when his curling free kick deflected off Daniel Sturridge and beyond Jones.
Liverpool regained a foothold on the game when Coutinho was swift to pounce on the rebound after Sturridge's shot was blocked by Jose Fonte in injury time.
With 10 minutes left in the match, Rodriguez found himself with little support in the opposition half, but he ran straight at the Liverpool defence. When his shot rebounded off Jones back into his path, the Saints midfielder ensured the win.
Stoke City 0, West Bromwich Albion 0
Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion shared the points in an uninspiring 0-0 draw at the Britannia Stadium.
There was little to excite the fans in the opening period, although Stoke striker Jon Walters went close with a long-range effort in the 41st minute.
The deadlock was almost broken in bizarre circumstances 20 minutes into the second half. Billy Jones' driven cross from the right struck Lukaku, but the effort also bounced off Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and over the crossbar with neither player knowing much about it.