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Mar 18, 2012

Man Utd go four clear, Toon triumph

Manchester United went four points clear of rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of ten-man Wolves at Molineux.

• Premier League gallery Photo Gallery

United, who stole first place from City a week ago, have cranked up the heat on Roberto Mancini's men ahead of their midweek match against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium. Wolves, meanwhile, have sunk to the bottom of the table, one point from safety, with boss Terry Connor's credentials coming into question just four matches into his reign.

Wolves gave as good as they got for the opening 20 minutes, but fell behind soon afterwards as their defensive woes once again came to the fore. Michael Carrick had far too much time to cushion a back-post corner from Wayne Rooney into the path of Jonny Evans - who, unmarked in the middle of the six-yard box, drilled the ball into the net for his first United goal.

The hosts were struggling to keep the ball long enough to hurt United, and their plight worsened when, on 40 minutes, Ronald Zubar was sent off for two bookable offences. Connor would have wanted to get to half time and consolidate, but he was out of luck: Antonio Valencia doubled United's advantage by drilling in following an incisive counter-attack that sprang from a Wolves corner - then, in first-half stoppage time, Danny Welbeck put the game well beyond the grasp of Connor's men, picking his spot with a side-foot finish from around the penalty spot.

Javier Hernandez got himself in on the act early in the second period, profiting from some more generous defending to head in with almost embarrassing ease. And the Mexico international also grabbed United's fifth, stroking home following yet more terrific work from the rampaging Valencia, who was producing one of the performances of the season.

Only a fine stop from Wayne Hennessey stopped Welbeck making it six - but nothing could spoil United's day as they took another step towards the Premier League title.

Papiss Cisse fired Newcastle to their first Premier League victory in five attempts as Norwich were edged out in a tight 1-0 contest.

The Senegal international struck with 11 minutes gone on an afternoon when he could easily have claimed a hat-trick.

But the visitors created chances of their own, and Tim Krul had to save from Anthony Pilkington and Zak Whitbread in quick succession after the break before Steve Morison passed up a glorious late opportunity.

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