( dpa ) - Christiano Roanldo's first hat-trick for Manchester United football club saw the champions overtake Arsenal at the top of the English Premier League Saturday with an imperious 6-0 win over managerless Newcastle United at Old Trafford.
The champions took advantage of Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Birmingham and they now lead their rivals on goal difference with both sides on 51 points. Chelsea closed the gap on the leaders to four points points with a 2-0 win at home to Tottenham while Liverpool head the following pack with Everton, Aston Villa and Manchester City all equal on 39 points.
Newcastle started the match at Old Trafford promisingly, playing noticeably more attractive football than under former manager Sam Allardyce. After an even first half, the visitors felt themselves unlucky not to be leading after a Michael Owen goal was wrongly ruled out for offside.
But Manchester United started the second half in an altogether different mood. They pounded Newcastle with incessant attacks and took the lead within 5 minutes after Ronaldo's free kick was struck low and hard under the defensive wall. Carlos Tevez doubled the lead after an horrendous mix-up in the Newcastle defence as goalkeeper Shay Given's clearance was struck directly at the Brazilian defender Cacapa.
Ronaldo bagged his second goal of the game after 70 minutes with a quality finish from a slick United attack before Rio Ferdinand volleyed in Wayne Rooney's dinked pass fifteen minutes later.
A deflected effort in the 90th minute gave Ronaldo his hat-trick and his 16th league goal of the season as Newcastle wilted under the home side's pressure. Tevez then got his second goal of the game with another volley that was ruled to have crossed the line having bounced off the underside of the crossbar.
The misery for the visiting Geordies was compounded in the closing minutes of the match as former Utd player Alan Smith, today's Newcastle captain, was sent off for dissent in the aftermath of the sixth goal.
Ronaldo was delighted with his first hat-trick in English football.
"It's a special day. I'm very proud and very happy but the most important thing is that we are now top of the table." said the Portuguese winger.
At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal failed to break down a stubborn Birmingham City side in a 1-1 draw.
The home side took the lead in the first half through a controversial Emmanuel Adebayor penalty after Stephen Kelly tackled striker Eduardo from behind. But Gary O'Connor stunned the home side early in the second half when he headed in a Sebastian Larsson corner.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was frustrated with his side's inability to overcome Birmingham.
"It was very frustrating" said Wenger. "We thought it was going to be too easy but we didn't create enough overall. We were not sharp enough and they defended well. It's as simple as that." admitted the Arsenal manager.
A stunning long-range effort from Juliano Belletti and a late goal from Shaun Wright-Phillips gave Chelsea a comfortable 2-0 win over Spurs at Stamford Bridge.
Further back, three teams now sit level on 39 points. Liverpool moved up into fourth place after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at Middlesbrough. Fernando Torres' superb strike in the 71st minute cancelled out George Boateng's goal for the home side.
Everton moved into fifth place and level with their Merseyside neighbours on 39 points with a 1-0 win over Manchester City. The defeated side dropped to seventh place as they were overtaken by Aston Villa who also moved onto 39 points with a 3-0 home win over Reading.
Wigan Athletic gained an important 1-0 victory at bottom-placed Derby while West Ham overcame Fulham 2-1 at Upton Park.