Javier Hernandez and Nani set each other up for goals as Manchester United beat Stoke 2-1 Tuesday night to take a three-point lead in the Premier League.

Hernandez put United ahead in the 27th minute with a back flick, his ninth goal of the season. After Dean Whitehead tied the score with the header in the 50th — Stoke's first goal at Old Trafford since 1980 — Chicharito fed Nani for the winner in the 62nd.

United (12-0-8) has 44 points, followed by Manchester City (12-4-5), which plays Wednesday at third-place Arsenal (12-5-3).

"Stoke are such a determined bunch of lads — they don't make it easy for anyone, breaking them down," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Thankfully Nani produced a fantastic goal ... and from then we were solid."

In Tuesday's other matches, Birmingham and Fulham climbed out of the relegation zone with victories.

Fulham beat West Bromwich 3-0 as a pair of Texas-born players — Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland — scored on headers off corner kicks.

Dempsey's goal, his first since Nov. 27, was his seventh of the season and sixth in the Premier League.

Simon Davies put the Cottagers ahead in first-half stoppage time when his 30-yard shot went through the raised hands of goalkeeper Scott Carson. Dempsey scored in the 56th and Hangeland, who plays for Norway's national team, in the 65th. Fellow American Eddie Johnson replaced Dempsey in the 87th.

Birmingham won a road game for the first time this season, 2-1 at Blackpool as Alexander Hleb scored in the 24th and Scott Dann in the 89th around D.J. Campbell's tying goal in the 68th.

Fulham (4-7-10) climbed to 13th place with 22 points, and Birmingham (4-6-10) is 15th. one spot ahead of West Brom (6-11-4).


LONDON (AP) — Carlo Ancelotti says he is lucky to still be Chelsea manager following the team's poor run.

The Premier League champions have taken just 10 points from their last 10 matches and slipped from top to fifth in two months.

Ancelotti was quoted telling British media that "I am a lucky man. I understand that a lot of coaches are sacked with results like these."

But the former AC Milan coach says that "when you go to a restaurant, you have to pay the bill when finish your meal. It's the same here. We have to pay the bill at the end of the season. At the end, the club can judge me."

Ancelotti won the league and FA Cup in May at the end of his first season.