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Man United Wins While Relegation Battle Tightens Up

wayne-rooney copyManchester United moved into third position in the Premier League thanks to a 3-1 win over Aston Villa, which included a stunning strike from Wayne Rooney. Ander Herrera’s first-half goal put United in front before Rooney doubled the hosts’ lead with a contender for goal of the month, if not the season.

Christian Benteke pulled one back for Aston Villa but Herrera scored again late on to give United three vital points ahead of next week’s Manchester derby. United endured some nervy moments in the final 20 minutes, but they rarely looked like failing to register their fifth straight English Premier League win.

At the other end of the table Leicester City picked up a massive three points as a late goal from substitute Andy King steered them to a 2-1 home victory over West Ham United. The Foxes raced into a 12th-minute lead through Esteban Cambiasso’s fine strike and were awarded a penalty three minutes later when Carl Jenkinson brought down Leonardo Ulloa, but David Nugent’s spot-kick was saved by Adrian.

It looked for a long time as if Nigel Pearson’s side would be left regretting that failed attempt after casual play from them at the back saw West Ham equalise on 32 minutes, Cheikhou Kouyate firing in. But the hosts made off with a vital three points in the end thanks to King’s scrappy finish with four minutes of normal time remaining.

Queens Park Rangers grabbed a survival lifeline with a stunning 4-1 win at ten-man West Bromwich Albion, only their second away victory of the season. Eduardo Vargas, Charlie Austin and a fabulous Bobby Zamora lob put Rangers 3-0 up at half time before Joey Barton’s stoppage-time strike. Albion disintegrated in the first half and, while Victor Anichebe pulled a goal back after the break, they could not fight back and had Youssouf Mulumbu sent off late on.

Hull City failed to ease their relegation fears as Swansea City closed in on their best-ever Premier League points total with a 3-1 win at the Liberty Stadium. Ki-Sung yueng and Bafetimbi Gomis gave Swansea a two-goal cushion at half-time which ultimately helped them move on to 46 points, just one short of their best total under Brendan Rodgers in the 2011-12 season.

Paul McShane halved the deficit five minutes after the break from a set-piece but Hull’s cause was damaged almost immediately when David Meyler was sent for a reckless challenge on Kyle Naughton. Swansea were well on top from that point but had to wait until injury time to kill the game off, Gomis running unopposed from his own half to latch onto Gylfi Sigurdsson’s long ball out of defence and finish with a deft chip over Hull goalkeeper Alan McGregor.

Everton captain Phil Jagielka’s solitary goal cut through the mediocrity on an afternoon when both the Toffees and Southampton disappointed. Even the centre-back’s close-range finish in the first half was relatively routine but neither he, his team-mates or manager will mind as it secured a third successive league win and back-to-back home wins in the top flight time for the first time in almost a year.