Mon, Dec 19, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Manchester United closes down Villa

EUROPEAN FOOTBALLAston Villa is now winless in its last 21 games against the Red Devils, who won on the road in Villa Park

AP , LONDON

Newcastle United's Titus Bramble, left, challenges West Ham's Bobby Zamora during their match at Upton Park in London, Saturday. Newcastle defeated West Ham 4-2.

PHOTO: AP

Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney scored in each half, moving Manchester United to within six points of league-leading Chelsea with a 2-0 victory Saturday at Aston Villa.

Van Nistelrooy scored his 15th goal of the season, chipping the ball over 'keeper Thomas Sorensen in the 10th minute. It was the Dutchman's eighth goal in nine games against Villa in all competitions.

Rooney added the second in the 51st. The England striker scored his 10th goal of the season, beating Sorensen with a low shot inside the far post.

In other results, it was Everton 0, Bolton 4; Fulham 2, Blackburn 1; Portsmouth 1, West Bromwich Albion 0; West Ham 2, Newcastle 4; Wigan 3, Charlton 0.

Chelsea leads the Premier League with 43 points in 16 games. Manchester United has 37 in 17 games, followed by Liverpool (31), Tottenham (30), Bolton (30), Wigan (28), Manchester City (27) and Arsenal (26).

Today, Chelsea plays at Arsenal and Tottenham is at Middlesbrough.

Despite being knocked out of the Champions League group stage for the first time in a decade, Van Nistelrooy said Manchester United was improving. The Red Devils have won five of their last six league games.

"We're getting momentum, when you win confidence grows," he said. "We are playing the same team week-in, week-out and we want this to continue. We want to continue our form and the run. Who knows what can happen?"

Widley criticized after Manchester United was ousted from Europe earlier this month, manager Alex Ferguson vowed to soldier on.

"We're nine points behind Chelsea if they win their game tomorrow, it's a long way but what we can do is to make sure we win our games," he said. "If we do, then if Chelsea slip up we'll be the nearest team to them."

England striker Michael Owen scored three as Newcastle won 4-2 at West Ham. Owen scored in the fifth, 43rd and capped it off with the third in second-half injury time.

Alan Shearer scored the other -- his 199th for Newcastle. West Ham got an own-goal from the Magpies' Nolberto Solano, and a late penalty from Marlon Harewood.

Bolton moved into fifth place -- trailing Tottenham on goal difference -- as Stelios Giannakopoulos scored twice -- in the 75th and 80th. Kevin Davies scored one and Gary Speed added a 79th-minute penalty.

Manchester City overwhelmed 19th-place Birmingham 4-1 on goals by David Sommeil, Joey Barton, Antoine Sibierski and Bradley Wright-Phillips to improve to 27 points. Jiri Jarosik scored Birmingham's goal.

Fulham improved to 19 points with its 2-1 home win over Blackburn. Papa Bouba Diop scored in first-half injury time -- his 50th start for the club -- and Luis Boa Morte made it 2-0 in the 52nd. A Zat Knight's own-goal in second-half injury time gave Blackburn a late chance.

Harry Redknapp got his first victory since returning to Portsmouth on the strength of Svetoslav Todorov's 56th-minute goal against West Brom. It was Portsmouth's first home win this season in the league.

Wigan edged up to 28 points with a hat trick from Henri Camara. He scored in the ninth, 51st and 63rd.

Chelsea is unbeaten against Arsenal in their last six games in all competitions. Earlier this season, Chelsea defeated Arsenal 1-0 at Stamford Bridge for its first league win against the Gunners since 1995.

Chelsea also defeated Arsenal 2-1 in the preseason Community Shield match.

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