Manchester United beat Arsenal to edge closer to Premier League title

Manchester United beat Arsenal to edge closer to Premier League title

( dpa ) - Manchester United came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 Sunday and stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League table to six points.

Chelsea could cut that gap to three as they face Wigan on Monday, but with only four games of the season remaining, United have one hand on the trophy.

Arsenal, nine points adrift, are out of realistic contention.

Emmanuel Adebayor put Arsenal ahead after 48 minutes, but Cristiano Ronaldo soon equalised from the penalty spot, before an Owen Hargreaves free-kick secured the win for United.

For Arsenal it was an all too familiar story. They lost at Chelsea in the Premier League having held the lead and, heartbreakingly, they lost at Liverpool last Tuesday having been within six minutes of progressing.

As Adebayor, who had not scored in his previous eight Premier League, spurned chance after chance in the first half, the thought occurred that Arsenal's chance might have gone, and even when he did break his drought there was never a sense of conviction about Arsenal.

The goal itself was controversial, as Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar each waited for the other to deal with a Robin van Persie cross and Adebayor turned the ball over the line with a combination of head and hand.

Ferdinand almost diverted an Adebayor cross into his own net, and if Van der Sar had not made an excellent save it could, perhaps, have been different, but within six minutes, United were level.

Liverpool regained the lead last Tuesday with a debatable penalty, but this one was clear cut as Michael Carrick's chipped pass was handled by William Gallas.

Ronaldo had to retake his penalty because of encroachment, but both efforts were unerring in finding the bottom corner.

United had been under the cosh in the first half, although Wayne Rooney was twice denied by excellent saves from Jens Lehmann - in for the injured Manuel Almunia.

But the longer the game went on, the more even the game became.

Arsenal almost regained the lead as Wes Brown diverted a Gael Clichy cross towards his own goal, Van der Sar getting down well to push the ball onto the post, but United came slowly to dominate possession.

Their winner arrived 20 minutes from time, as Hargreaves flicked a free-kick over the wall and in at Lehmann's right-hand post - United's 100th goal in all competitions this season.

Earlier in the day, Liverpool bolstered their bid for fourth with a 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers.

Steven Gerrard put them ahead on the hour, before goals from Fernando Torres and Andriy Voronin in the last two minutes sealed the win.

Roque Santa Cruz's late volley was only a consolation.

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