Man U beat Aston Villa, stay ahead of Chelsea

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Manchester United scored three first-half goals to beat Aston Villa 3-1 in the Premier League on Saturday and stay six points ahead of Chelsea.

Updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Manchester United scored three first-half goals to beat Aston Villa 3-1 in the Premier League on Saturday and stay six points ahead of Chelsea. Park Ji-sung, Michael Carrick and Cristiano Ronaldo scored at Old Trafford as Man United beat Villa for the 11th straight time. The Red Devils had also knocked Villa out in Sunday's FA Cup third round. Chelsea beat Wigan 4-0 at Stamford Bridge for its first league win in four games. Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba scored, while Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland conceded an own goal. Man United has 57 points after 18 wins from 23 games, while Chelsea has 51 points. Liverpool stayed third on 43 after a 3-0 win at last-place Watford. Arsenal won 2-0 at Blackburn with goals by Kolo Toure and Thierry Henry despite the 13th-minute ejection of Gilberto Silva for kicking out at Robbie Savage. The Gunners are fourth with 42 points. Saturday's other results were: Bolton 0, Manchester City 0; Charlton 1, Middlesbrough 3; Sheffield United 1, Portsmouth 1 and West Ham 3, Fulham 3. On Sunday, Everton hosts Reading and Tottenham welcomes Newcastle. Before a Premier League record crowd of 76,073, Henrik Larsson made his league debut for United, but it was Park who scored in the 11th minute and set up Carrick's first goal for United two minutes later. Carrick then provided the cross for Ronaldo to head his 13th goal of the season, before Gabriel Agbonlahor scored a consolation goal for Villa. "I'm not saying it's going to plan," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "But they are playing with great expression in their game, with great determination, and there's marvelous team spirit there. There are still 15 games to go and we are in a good position." Doubtful future Manager Jose Mourinho's future at Chelsea is in doubt after a reported rift with owner Roman Abramovich. "My future is not important," Mourinho said. "My future is tomorrow. My future is the next game and Chelsea is important, not me. Beaten 3-1 in the FA Cup and then 6-3 in the League Cup by the Gunners at Anfield in the past week, Liverpool played a 3-4-3 formation and had two goals from Peter Crouch and one from Craig Bellamy. In the 34th minute at Vicarage Road, a shot by Crouch was blocked by goalkeeper Ben Foster and Steve Finnan passed the ball square for Bellamy to score his eighth goal of the season. Six minutes later, a clearance by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina was headed on by Dirk Kuyt, and although Foster saved Bellamy's subsequent shot, Crouch headed in the rebound. Crouch scored the third in the 48th on a Liverpool counterattack. Bellamy made a fast break down the left and pulled the ball back for the unmarked Crouch to turn the ball into the net. The Hornets are last after only one victory in 21 league games and have 12 points. Next-to-last Charlton stayed on 16 points despite taking the lead through Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at The Valley against one of his former clubs. Middlesborough hit back with goals by Lee Cattermole, Julio Arca and Aiyegbeni Yakubu to climb to 13th place and away from the relegation zone. West Ham twice lost leads to draw 3-3 with Fulham and stay in the relegation zone with 19 points. After Tomasz Radzinski had given the Cottagers the lead at Upton Park, Bobby Zamora equalized. Yossi Benayoun scored to make it 2-1 to the Hammers, before Brian McBride leveled. Benayoun scored again, but after Zamora was sent off for two yellow cards, Philippe Christanval equalized in the 90th. Sheffield United's Stephen Quinn scored in the 22nd, but Gary O'Neil equalized in the 81st at Bramall Lane. Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton shot wide from close range to miss the best chance in the scoreless draw at Bolton.

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