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United tops Everton to go 12 points clear

Manchester United took firm control of the Premiership title race on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Everton at Old Trafford that moves United 12 points above rivals Manchester City.

City's 3-1 defeat at Southampton on Saturday paved the way for United to open the sizeable gap, and first-half goals from Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie proved to be enough to give Sir Alex Ferguson's men their seventh victory in the last eight games.

After beating United 1-0 at Goodison Park earlier this season, Everton came off second best on Sunday and was fortunate not to go behind after 10 minutes when Van Persie was played through on goal by Wayne Rooney.

The Dutchman rounded goalkeeper Tim Howard but struck the post with his shot from a tight angle.

However, the home side grabbed the lead three minutes later with Van Persie laying a ball off to Giggs, who stroked home his first goal of the campaign from near the penalty spot when the ball struck the right post and caromed into the net.

The Toffees fell behind by two goals in first-half stoppage time with Van Persie making the most of another chance.

This time it was Rafael who played provider as Van Persie beat the offside trap and rounded Howard for a second time, with the ball managing to make it over the goal line despite the best efforts of Everton defender John Heitinga.

United then saw out the second 45 minutes with little trouble and nearly added a third goal in the 66th minute when Howard was called upon to make a pair of saves to keep the ball out following a scramble in front of the net.

Aston Villa 2, West Ham 1

Birmingham, England - Aston Villa climbed out of the bottom three in the Premiership on Sunday after securing a 2-1 win over West Ham at Villa Park.

The result snaps a winless streak of eight successive matches for the Villains, who move one point clear of 18th-place Reading with the victory.

It took a while for the match to spring to life but it did over the final 20 minutes as Christian Benteke opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 74th minute after West Ham's Mark Noble brought down Charles N'Zogbia inside the area.

N'Zogbia then found the net himself five minutes later with a superb free kick before West Ham clawed a goal back three minutes from time when Joe Cole's cross was redirected into his own net by Villa's Ashley Westwood.