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United Go Seven Points Clear While Chelsea Throw Away Another Lead

rooney 1Two goals from Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United beat Southampton 2-1 and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points.

Southampton took a shock third minute lead when Michael Carrick’s poor back-pass left David de Gea in trouble, with Jay Rodriguez dispossessing the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into the net.

However, United were only behind for five minutes with Rooney equalising after the England striker was played in by Shinji Kagawa. And Rooney made it 2-1 in the 27th minute after a Robin van Persie free-kick was headed back across goal by Patrice Evra.

Elsewhere, Chelsea blew a 2-0 lead as Reading climbed out of the bottom three after Adam Le Fondre scored two late goals in a 2-2 draw. The Blues, who only won three of their nine games in January, looked comfortable leading 2-0 with five minutes go thanks to goals from Mata and Lampard.

But Le Fondre increased the pressure on Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez with two well-struck goals in the final three minutes to stun the Chelsea players and their fans. The point moved Reading out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Spurs failed to take advantage of Chelsea’s misstep as they could only draw 1-1 at Norwich.

The Canaries, fresh from the embarrassment of being knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Luton Town, went ahead when Wes Hoolahan turned in Anthony Pilkington’s 32nd minute cross. But Wales winger Bale struck in the 80th minute when he collected the ball inside his own half, ran at the defence and curled a shot across the goalkeeper.

Fifth-placed Everton closed to within a point of Tottenham after a 2-1 win at home to West Bromwich Albion. Leighton Baines gave Everton a 29th minute lead at Goodison Park when his well-timed run saw him found by Leon Osman before the left-back lashed a shot into the roof of the net from 16 yards.

Baines then doubled Everton’s lead with a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Claudio Yacob brought down Victor Anichebe in the box. Shane Long pulled a goal back for the Baggies with a 65th minute header.

Champions League pretenders Arsenal and Liverpool played to an entertaining 2-2 at the Emirates.

It took only five minutes for Liverpool to carve open the porous Arsenal defence, and when Daniel Sturridge’s shot was saved by Wojciech Szczesny, Luis Suarez was on hand to make it 1-0.

More bad Arsenal defending allowed Jordan Henderson to burst into the Gunners penalty area to make it 2-0 in the 60th minute.

But before Liverpool fans could even finish shouting Henderson’s name it was 2-2. First Olivier Giroud headed in Jack Wilshere’s free-kick and the Frenchman turned provider for Theo Walcott, who equalised with a powerful shot.

Finally Fulham beat London rivals West Ham 3-1 at Craven Cottage as striker Dimitar Berbatov celebrated his 32nd birthday by opening the scoring for Fulham with a tenth minute header.

There was a goal rush early in the second half, with Kevin Nolan equalising for the Hammers only for Hugo Rodallega to restore Fulham’s lead a minute later when he turned in Damien Duff’s cross. Joey O’Brien’s late own-goal sealed Fulham’s victory.