( dpa ) - Champions Manchester United returned to the top of the English Premier League on Wednesday after a Cristiano Ronaldo double gave them a 2-0 win over Portsmouth at Old Trafford.
The Portugal forward scored both goals in the space of four first-half minutes (10 and 13) and United ran out comfortable winners to join Arsenal on 57 points but go above them on goal difference.
Third-placed Chelsea stayed in touch with a 1-0 win over Reading, Michael Ballack the scorer, while Everton remain fourth despite being held to a 0-0 draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
But Liverpool lost more ground on the leaders as they were beaten 1-0 at West Ham through a last-minute penalty.
The game at Old Trafford was as good as over within 13 minutes as Ronaldo struck twice to take his goal tally to the season to 27.
First he finished off after a pass from Nani before he won a free-kick about 25 yards out and got up to hit his second into the top corner.
Portsmouth never really created anything to threaten United and manager Sir Alex Ferguson was able to take off both Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney with around 20 minutes still to play.
Michael Ballack headed the only goal of the game at Stamford Bridge to give Chelsea victory over Reading and keep them in touch with the top two, just four points behind.
The Germany captain powered in an unstoppable header from Paulo Ferreira's cross to score his third of the season and make it nine wins out of the last nine matches in all competitions for Chelsea.
New signing Jonathan Woodgate played a starring role on his debut for Tottenham Hotspur as they held Everton to a 0-0 draw at Goodison.
But Everton's disappointment at not picking up a home win will have been tempered by misery for their city rivals after Liverpool were beaten 1-0 at West Ham.
Both sides had chances to win it in normal time but in time added on, West Ham won it after Jamie Carragher fouled Freddie Ljungberg and Mark Noble stepped up to score the penalty.
The result means Liverpool have still not won in the league since Boxing Day and sit seventh, 17 points the top two.
Manchester City edged above them into sixth despite being held to a 1-1 draw at bottom side Derby County in the night's other game.