Manchester United Widen Gap At The Top

Another performance to sum up Manchester United’s season. Not particularly good, but good enough. As Sir Alex Ferguson’s team emerge from a busy holiday schedule, they have every reason to be pleased. They sit at the top of the English Premier League and the gap continues to widen. Imagine what would happen, though, if they ever played consistently well.

Last night’s victory came courtesy of an impudent Javier Hernandez goal just before the half hour and a superb, left-foot curler from Portuguese winger Nani just after the hour mark. But Stoke had equalised in the 51st minute when midfielder Dean Whitehead got between Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra to head in a cross from Tuncay Sanil from eight yards. Ferguson will be delighted with a further example of his team’s resilience.

Blackpool's first appearance at Bloomfield Road since November ended in defeat as Aleksandr Hleb and Scott Dann scored to end Birmingham's unenviable record of being the only Barclays Premier League team not to win away this season. In fact it was March 2010 when Alex McLeish's side last triumphed on the road.

Birmingham were good value for the three points against a Blackpool side who have been effective away from home themselves during a 45-day break from home games following a succession of postponements due to the icy weather and lack of undersoil heating and came back into the game when Birmingham old boy DJ Campbell equalised after 68 minutes.

Fulham moved out of the relegation zone with a vital home victory against West Bromwich, as the visitors suffered their fifth consecutive defeat. A Simon Davies strike and headers by Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland have given Fulham three vital points in a battling affair at Craven Cottage.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes has predicted that, just like Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City did under his stewardship, Fulham will earn more points in the second half of the season than they did in the first. The jury’s still out on that.

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