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Man U wins at Newcastle to move 7 points clear

EDWIN van der Sar lost his record-breaking run without conceding but Manchester United won 2-1 at Newcastle to move seven points clear at the top of the English Premier League with a game in hand yesterday.

After stretching his record to 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal since Nov. 8, Dutch goalkeeper Van der Sar handed Newcastle a ninth-minute lead at St. James' Park by failing to hold a shot, only for Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov to make up for the mistake.

The result means Alex Ferguson's team has 65 points from 27 games. Chelsea, which won 1-0 at Portsmouth on Tuesday and Liverpool, which beat Sunderland 2-0, have 58 from 28.

"It was not a great performance. We got off to a terrible start," Ferguson said. "Coming from 1-0 down to eventually win is a great result for us. We may have been a bit careless with our passing."

Fourth-place Aston Villa lost further ground with a 2-0 loss at Manchester City and leads Arsenal by only three points in the race for the fourth Champions League spot. The Gunners won 3-1 at last-place West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.

Everton and Blackburn drew 0-0 and West Ham won 1-0 at Wigan thanks to a goal by Carlton Cole although the striker was then sent off for his second yellow card.

Stoke eased its relegation worries with a 2-0 victory over Bolton, Tottenham did the same by outplaying struggling Middlesbrough 4-0, and Hull won 1-0 at Fulham.

Van der Sar was at fault for causing the end of his own English record run without conceding when he failed to hold a shot from Jonas Gutierrez, giving Peter Lovenkrands an easy early goal.

Rooney equalized in the 20th with a volley and Berbatov scored in the 56th with a close range tap-in. Newcastle defender Ryan Taylor failed to turn the ball back to his keeper with his chest and Park Ji-sung won possession to provide the pass for the winner.

Despite the absence of injured forwards Robinho and Craig Bellamy, Manchester City outplayed off-color Aston Villa. Elano fired home a 24th-minute penalty after James Milner brought down Shaun Wright-Phillips, who added the second with a minute to go for his seventh goal of the season.

Villa has not won in six league and cup games while Man City moved up to eighth.

Everton and Blackburn created few chances in their 0-0 draw at Ewood Park while West Ham's winner at Wigan came at the end of a top quality move.

Cole didn't stay on the field, however, as he was sent off in the first half. It became 10 vs. 10 when Wigan defender Lee Cattermole was the second player to be sent off by Stuart Attwell, the youngest referee in the Premier League at age 26, when he charged down Scott Parker.

Aaron Lennon scored twice for Tottenham which led Boro 3-0 before halftime. Robbie Keane marked his 200th appearance for Spurs with his first goal since he returned to the club from Liverpool in the January transfer window, and Roman Pavlyuchenko added a second in the 14th minute.

Starting next-to-last, Stoke climbed four places after James Beattie scored his fifth goal since he moved in the transfer window and substitute Ricardo Fuller added his seventh of the season in the 73rd.

Hull ended a run of 11 games without a victory and finally won for the second time in 19 matches thanks to a winner in the final minute by Manucho, who was on loan from Manchester United.

In League Championship action, Birmingham regained second place from Reading by beating Bristol City 1-0 thanks to Franck Queudrue's 87th-minute goal. Alex McLeish's team was now three points behind Wolves.


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