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United leave it late, City slump to defeat

Manchester United extended their lead in the Premier League table to seven points after they triumphed in a seven-goal thriller against Newcastle, while Manchester City slumped to defeat at Sunderland. Chelsea closed the gap in third with a narrow win at Norwich, while Everton defeated Wigan.

• Jolly: United display perfect timing
• Heneage: Doubts creep up on City
• Boxing Day Gallery Photo Gallery
• Tactics: Bale versatility vexes Villa

Javier Hernandez scored a dramatic late winner as Manchester United claimed a thrilling 4-3 win against Newcastle United.

Newcastle had lost six of their last eight league matches, but buoyed by victory at home to Queens Park Rangers last weekend, grabbed the lead inside four minutes.

Demba Ba, who had an early chance in the opening seconds, played a big part in the first goal as David De Gea palmed the Senegal striker's shot into the path of James Perch, who had a simple finish for his first strike for the club.

With Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck all unavailable, Javier Hernandez started up front alongside Robin van Persie, but United's equaliser came from the defence; Evans sliding home after Krul saved Hernandez's original effort.

But Newcastle were back in front three minutes later, in controversial circumstances. Danny Simpson's shot was deflected into his own net by Evans, but the defender was initially let off the hook when the assistant Jake Collin flagged that Papiss Cisse was offside.

However, referee Mike Dean ruled Cisse was not interfering with play and allowed the goal to stand, to the fury of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sylvain Marveaux nearly doubled Newcastle's lead when his free-kick from the edge of the area beat De Gea but clattered off the crossbar.

But it was United who clawed themselves back in the game, Patrice Evra scoring his fourth goal of the season, driving a low strike past Tim Krul.

However, for a third time Alan Pardew's side took the lead after substitute Gabriel Obertan squared the ball back for Papiss Cisse to smash home from six yards out.

Van Persie then equalised at the second time of asking after Krul saved his initial effort, but both he and Hernandez were both guilty of squandering chances.

Hernandez, though, secured all three points for United, the Mexican sweeping home Michael Carrick's pin-point cross from close range.

Manchester City failed to take advantage of United's slip-up as they stumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland. Adam Johnson struck the killer blow against his former club as the Black Cats made it three wins from four.

As with their late win against Reading last week, City were unable to make the most of their dominance in the first half,

Vincent Kompany, back in the starting line-up after recovering from a groin injury, had an early chance to put City ahead, but his header clattered the crossbar before Yaya Toure's rebound was well saved by Simon Mignolet.

City had a late winner against Reading last week, but they were unable to find a way past a stubborn Sunderland rearguard as Johnson's goal proved the difference.

Johnson, out wide on the right, cut inside and caught Joe Hart off guard with a curling effort, beating the England 'keeper at his near post.

Chelsea are hot on City's heels after they claimed a third straight win with a 1-0 win over Norwich City.

Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game to sink the Canaries, who suffered back to back defeats for the first time since October 6.

Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard, two of the key architects of Chelsea's 8-0 hammering of Aston Villa on Sunday, were dropped to the bench, but there was still plenty of quality in midfield as Oscar and Mata combined for the goal.

Oscar skipped past a Norwich defender before feeding the ball to Mata, who fired a left-footed strike past Mark Bunn from 30 yards.

Everton continued their challenge for the Champions League places as they beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 at Goodison Park.

Phil Neville celebrated his 500th Premier League appearance with three points thanks to goals from Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka.

After a goalless opening 45 minutes, the hosts started the second half brightly, with Thomas Hitzlsperger clattering the bar from nearly 40 yards out.

But the breakthrough came in the 52nd minute when Osman's shot took a wicked deflection off Gary Caldwell to wrong-foot Ali Al Habsi.

Wigan felt aggrieved to have been denied a penalty after Shaun Maloney was bundled over by Osman, but the Wigan midfielder was booked for his troubles after protesting Lee Mason's decision.

Everton doubled their lead through Jagielka, directing his header beyond Al Habsi high into the top corner from Neville's cross. Wigan pulled a goal back through Arouna Kone, but they were unable to find a way back into the match.

Aston Villa's mini-revival from their eight-goal humbling at Chelsea's hands three days ago lasted all of 45 minutes as they fell apart after half-time against Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs won 4-0, with all the goals coming in the second half, thanks to a hat-trick from Gareth Bale and a smart opener from Jermain Defoe.

Bale's trio were well taken but his first stood above the following two and will be painful to watch for Paul Lambert's team as they could have scored themselves 15 seconds earlier. The ball was cleared into Bale's path when Spurs were on the counterattack and the Welshman dribbled around Brad Guzan in Villa's goal and he passed into an open net.

His second goal was created by a neat run in-field from Aaron Lennon and he drove the ball home with his left leg. He rounded matters off from a similar position inside the box when Gylfi Sigursson supplied him with the ball after Kyle Walker picked out the Icelander's run.

Stoke City moved three points ahead of Liverpool in the league table by beating the Reds 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium with two goals from Jon Walters and one from Kenwyne Jones.

Liverpool got off to a flyer when Luis Suarez rounded Ryan Shawcross but the Uruguayan was impeded by the Stoke defender. Referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot and Steven Gerrard easily converted in the second minute.

Walters soon levelled things up with a fine finish to some un-pretty build up. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel failed to deal with a dangerous ball and Walters had time to find the corner of the net.

Seven minutes later Stoke were celebrating again. Glenn Whelan's corner was the perfect height for the towering Jones to head goalward and give the hosts the lead.

But they saved their best goal until last as Walters collected a headed flick pass from Jones with his chest and turned to fire the ball in at the near post.

Rickie Lambert scored a late equaliser from the penalty spot to earn a 1-1 for Southampton at Fulham.

Fulham, looking to get back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats, took an early lead through Dimitar Berbatov, tapping home after Kelvin Davis failed to clear Sascha Riether's cross from the right.

But Saints were rewarded for their efforts in the second half, Lambert smashing past Schwarzer after Chris Baird handled the ball under pressure from the striker.

Queens Park Rangers slipped back to the bottom of the Premier League table as they were lost 2-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion.

Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes after the Baggies' coach got stuck in traffic, but the visitors got off to a rapid start as Chris Brunt opened the scoring with a well-struck effort from 30 yards. QPR keeper Robert Green was at fault for the second goal as he palmed the ball into his own net under pressure from Marc-Antoine Fortune.

The Hoops pulled a goal back through Djibril Cisse in the dying stages, but Ben Foster made a good save to keep out Clint Hill's late header to earn three points for West Brom.

Reading leapfrogged QPR into 19th as they ended their seven-game losing streak with a 0-0 against Swansea City at the Madejski Stadium. In a game between two of the league's leakiest defences, it was a game of few chances as the teams shared the spoils.

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