Man United close in on Premier League title (Roundup)

May 4th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 4 (DPA) Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Manchester United hammered West Ham United 4-1 at Old Trafford to take a big step towards retaining their English Premier League football title. Carlos Tevez and Michael Carrick scored the other goals as United survived the second half with only 10 men — after the sending off of Nani — to move three points clear of Chelsea at the top Saturday.

Chelsea can pull level again by winning at Newcastle Monday night but after that, with a superior goal difference and only one more game remaining for each side next weekend, United are in the driver’s seat.

At the other end, Bolton are virtually safe after beating Sunderland 2-0 and Fulham gave their hopes of survival hopes a massive boost as they beat fellow strugglers Birmingham City 2-0 to move out of the bottom three.

West Ham have been a thorn in United’s side at times in recent years but from the moment Ronaldo put them in front after five minutes, there was only one winner.

The Portugal forward scored his second of the day and 40th of the season, in all competitions, on 24 minutes and Tevez hammered one inv from 30 yards to make it 3-0 two minutes later.

Dean Ashton pulled one back with a spectacular over-head kick on 28 minutes and West Ham were given more hope when Nani was sent off just before half-time for head-butting Lucas Neill.

But United were just as in control with 10 men as they had been with 11 and Carrick waltzed through the midfield before his long-range shot was deflected in for United’s fourth.

“We have not won anything yet but we hope we can win the league next week,” United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.

About the match, he admitted there were some anxious moments before the win was sealed.

“There was a bit of nervousness in our play at times but we killed the game in the second half to continue what has been a fantastic season so far,” he said.

“We were down to 10 men and I said to try to run the clock down, keep possession and be patient in the second half and I’m very pleased because there was a bit of tiredness.”

At the Reebok. El-Hadji Djouf put Bolton ahead three minutes before half-time and an own goal by Daryl Murphy seven minutes from the end sealed their 2-0 win over Sunderland and effectively their Premiership berth.

They have 36 points and though others can match their points total, they should be safe on goal difference even if they lose their final match at Chelsea.

Goals from Brian McBride and Erik Nevland gave Fulham a 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Birmingham City, lifting them above Alex McLeish’s side.

The win lifts them to 33 points, one better than Birmingham and Reading, who both fell into the bottom three. Reading were beaten 0-1 at home by Tottenham Hotspur.

“It’s one step closer. We had to win today and we did it well, I thought,” Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said.

“We’ve got a very, very big game next week against Portsmouth. I’m delighted that we’re going there with a chance but there can be no euphoria yet.”

Reading manager Steve Coppell admitted his side’s fate was out of their hands, but said: “We’ve now go eight days to get ourselves ready for arguably the biggest game in the club’s history. We’ve enjoyed playing in the Premiership and we want to stay here.”

Aston Villa’s hopes of overtaking Everton for fifth place and a guaranteed Uefa Cup spot were given a massive blow as they lost 0-2 at home to Wigan.

Blackburn moved above Portsmouth into seventh with a 3-1 win over relegated Derby County, while Portsmouth themselves lost 0-2 at Middlesbrough.

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