Man Utd go seven points clear after seven-goal thriller
A 90th-minute goal by Javier Hernandez gave Manchester United a thrilling 4-3 victory at home to Newcastle United on Wednesday, sending Alex Ferguson's men seven points clear of rivals City, who lost at Sunderland.
Manchester United trailed three times before a last-gasp goal from Javier Hernandez earned a rip-roaring 4-3 win over Newcastle United that opened a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League on Wednesday.
The leaders had to come from behind three times to win, and second-place Manchester City's 1-0 loss at Sunderland meant that the traditional Boxing Day fixtures left United with plenty of reasons to feel thankful.
United were without Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck due to injury and illness, and they fell behind in the fourth minute when James Perch tapped in after David de Gea saved from Demba Ba.
Jonny Evans equalised in the 25th minute, sliding in after Tim Krul denied Javier Hernandez, but the Northern Irishman undid his good work four minutes later when he inadvertently turned in Danny Simpson's cross for an own goal.
The goal was given despite Papiss Cisse lingering in an offside position behind Evans, and United manager Ferguson harangued referee Mike Dean and his officials as the teams returned for the second half.
Patrice Evra drew the hosts level just before the hour, driving in from the edge of the area to claim his fourth goal of the campaign, only for Cisse to restore Newcastle's advantage by slamming home from 12 yards.
Robin van Van Persie equalised in the 71st minute and after Sammy Ameobi had hit the post for Newcastle, Hernandez ghosted into the visitors' area to sweep home Michael Carrick's pass and secure a potentially crucial victory.
With the season at the halfway point Manchester United, who have already racked up 48 goals to compensate for some unusually leaky defending, have 46 points with Manchester City on 39.
Manchester City were undone by former winger Adam Johnson in the 53rd minute as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for Sunderland.
Their defeat at Sunderland was their second in a row at the Stadium of Light, although they remain second in the table with a four-point lead over Chelsea, who won 1-0 at Norwich City thanks to a 20-metre strike from Juan Mata.
In the race for fourth place, Everton nudged ahead with a 2-1 win over struggling Wigan Athletic at Goodison Park where home defender Phil Neville made his 500th league appearance.
West Bromwich Albion continued to impress with a 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers in a match delayed after the bus carrying the visiting team arrived late.
Harry Redknapp’s QPR dropped back to the bottom of the table with only 10 points, Reading jumping above them on goal difference with a 0-0 draw at home to Swansea City.
Fulham drew 1-1 with Southampton who remain just above the bottom three.
The Boxing Day programme is completed later with Aston Villa hosting Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City entertaining Liverpool.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)