Veteran midfielder Paul Scholes scored his 100th Premier League goal as reigning champions Manchester United returned to the top of the table with a 1-0 win at gritty strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
Scholes found the target at Molineux in the 73rd minute when he was first to react after Nani’s cross came off Christophe Berra.
The victory allowed Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to open a two-point gap on both Chelsea and Arsenal, although Sam Vokes could have equalized in stoppage-time for relegation-threatened Wolves, but he blasted over the top.
Chelsea, who played Stoke City in the FA Cup quarter-finals yesterday, have a game in hand over their title rivals.
“I’m very pleased with that,” the 35-year-old Scholes told ESPN. “To score goals is what you need to do to win games. Thankfully, tonight it’s fallen to me and I’ve managed to put it in. It was a difficult game. It was a tough pitch and a tough team to play against.”
Ferguson hailed Scholes, saying: “He’s fantastic. A hundred league goals from a midfield player in the Premier League is outstanding. He’s a fantastic player. The way we play him these days, where he sits a bit deeper, maybe takes away that goal threat he used to always give you as a young player, but the opportunity arose today and he was the best player to have it.”
Earlier, Arsenal maintained their title push with a 3-1 win at home to struggling Burnley.
Arsenal took the lead at the Emirates Stadium with a typically stylish goal 11 minutes before halftime. Cesc Fabregas played the ball to Samir Nasri and continued his run into the box, before receiving a superb return pass. Spain international Fabregas then hit a first-time shot past Clarets goalkeeper Brian Jensen.
Five minutes later, Fabregas went off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and was replaced by Abou Diaby.
Arsenal squandered several chances to double their lead and were made to pay in the 50th minute when Burnley striker David Nugent lifted the ball over Gunners goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.
However, 20-year-old Arsenal winger Theo Walcott — much criticized after a lackluster display in England’s midweek friendly win over Egypt — got the second goal the home side had been threatening on the hour mark.
After being played in by striker Nicklas Bendtner, he curled a left-foot shot inside the far post. Substitute Andrey Arshavin sealed Arsenal’s victory in the closing seconds.
“Theo Walcott gave you the great response you waited for,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Wenger said club captain Fabregas’s fitness ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Porto tomorrow was a concern.
“We have to make a late decision over whether he plays on Tuesday, certainly. It is the same hamstring [he injured earlier this season],” Wenger said.
Bolton Wanderers moved further away from the drop zone with a 2-1 win away at West Ham United in a match where they played the final 18 minutes a man down after Israeli midfielder Tamir Cohen was sent off for a second bookable offense.
“There’s no doubt we were worthy winners and maybe by a bigger margin,” Bolton boss Owen Coyle said.
South Korea midfielder Lee Chung-yong set up Bolton’s opener when he crossed for striker Kevin Davies to head in his eighth goal in 10 appearances against the Hammers in the 10th minute.