London:Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Manchester United pulled clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over in-form Blackburn at Old Trafford.
The champions' win came as Chelsea's climb up the table was stalled by Tim Cahill, whose spectacular last-minute equaliser earned Everton a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
United moved three points clear of Arsenal at the top of the table, although the Gunners can level things up again if they win at Reading on Monday night and will still have a game in hand over their rivals.
Third-placed Manchester City lost ground on the leaders after settling for a goalless draw at Portsmouth.
Elsewhere, Tottenham hammered Wigan 4-0 to claim their first league win under new manager Juande Ramos, Aston Villa emerged 2-1 winners from their local derby at Birmingham and Bolton shared the points with fellow strugglers Middlesbrough after a goalless draw at the Reebok.
Two goals in as many first-half minutes from Ronaldo allowed United to make light of the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney and coast to a 2-0 win over a Blackburn side that had begun to harbour aspirations of joining the title holders in the Champions League next season.
Christopher Samba had hit the post for Blackburn in the 18th minute but they were were undone by Ronaldo, who headed in a 34th-minute corner from Ryan Giggs barely a minute before he fastened on to a Tevez pass to double the lead.
Any chance of a Blackburn fightback disappeared when midfielder David Dunn was sent off for a second yellow card offence, eight minutes into the second half.
"I'm really happy with that result because they are a good side," United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said.
"With the front players we've got, one is going to produce something on the day we feel - today it was Ronaldo.
But there was good play from Tevez and Louis Saha and I thought Ryan Giggs was absolutely fantastic."
Ferguson's side's advantage over Chelsea is now five points after Cahill cancelled out a Didier Drogba header with an overhead kick one minute from the end of match dominated by the Londoners.
Chelsea's frustration was compounded by an injury to central defender Ricardo Carvalho, who joins Petr Cech, John Terry and Paulo Ferreira in the treatment room.
"We have too many injuries at the moment, and it is not easy to play without key players," admitted manager Avram Grant.
"But this is why we have a big squad. We have players who can come in and replace those who are injured."
Tottenham's long-suffering fans were given reason to believe brighter days may be around the corner as a double from Jermaine Jenas and an Aaron Lennon strike saw them kill off managerless Wigan with barely half an hour gone at White Hart Lane.