Manchester United came from two goals down to beat a stunned Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 at Old Trafford and move ever closer to retaining the Premier League title.
With nearest rivals Liverpool winning 3-1 at Hull earlier on Saturday afternoon, United were under intense pressure as they trailed to goals by Darren Bent and Luka Modric at half time. Manager Alex Ferguson threw on Carlos Tevez to give them yet more firepower and it sparked a remarkable turnaround. Two goals apiece from Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and the fifth from former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov left United three points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand. The game turned on a controversial penalty award to United as another former Spurs man Michael Carrick went down under challenge from Heurelho Gomes. Television replays indicated that Gomes had got a slight touch on the ball ahead of contact with Carrick, but referee Howard Webb waved away furious Tottenham appeals. Ronaldo stepped up to score on 56 minutes and the writing was on the wall for Tottenham as Rooney quickly equalized with a low shot which Gomes appeared to misjudge at his near post. The tireless Rooney then cut inside before sending over the perfect cross for the diving Ronaldo to put United 3-2 ahead. Rooney made it 4-2 as Ronaldo returned the compliment with Berbatov scoring at the second attempt after another Gomes error to seal the victory and a remarkable comeback. “We are in a great position now, we have to make sure we take advantage,” Rooney told Press Association. “With fives games left it is only ours to throw away.” Earlier, Dirk Kuyt scored twice as Liverpool left Hull still deep in relegation trouble. Xabi Alonso put Liverpool ahead right on half-time, volleying home after his free-kick had been blocked. Hull had Caleb Folan sent off for lashing out at Martin Skrtel on the hour mark and were soon two down. Defender Skrtel’s mis-hit shot fell perfectly for Dutch star Kuyt to head home. Battling Hull pulled one back in the 72nd minute as Geovanni netted, but Kuyt sealed the victory with an opportunist strike on 89 minutes. Chelsea stayed three points behind Liverpool in third place after a 1-0 win at West Ham. Salomon Kalou gave them the lead in the 55th minute with Petr Cech saving a Mark Noble penalty as Chelsea held on for victory.
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In other matches, bottom club West Bromwich Albion gave themselves a glimmer of hope with a 3-0 win over Sunderland who are also battling relegation. Fulham moved ahead of West Ham in the battle for a Europa League place with a 1-0 home win over Stoke. Manchester City stepped up their challenge with a 2-1 win at Everton with Robinho scoring the opener and setting up Stephen Ireland for the second. Aston Villa are still without a win since the start of February. Ashley Young put them ahead at Bolton but Tamir Cohen equalized in the second half. In the second-flight Championship, Wolves drew 1-1 at Barnsley to clinch the title, while Ipswich won 3-0 at Cardiff in Roy Keane’s first game in charge.