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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May, 3, 2008

Premier League: United close, Fulham revivial

Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice to help Manchester United claim a 4-1 victory over West Ham which moved them a step close to retaining the Barclays Premier League title.

The Portugal winger opened the scoring in the third minute of the day's early kick-off when he cashed in on Lucas Neill's slip and steered the ball into the corner of the net.

Ronaldo collected his 40th goal of the season in the 24th minute when he bundled home a cross from Owen Hargreaves.

Carlos Tevez added a spectacular third goal two minutes later with a long-range strike which flew past Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green.

The visitors then pulled one back in the 28th minute thanks to a smart overhead-kick by Dean Ashton before United lost Nani who was shown a straight red card for butting Neill.

Michael Carrick rounded off the scoring at Old Trafford in the 59th minute to leave United three points clear of second-placed Chelsea who face Newcastle on Monday.

A close-range header from Brian McBride and Erik Nevland's late strike gave Fulham a crucial 2-0 win over Birmingham at Craven Cottage which lifted Roy Hodgson's side out of the relegation zone.

Jimmy Bullard delivered a dangerous ball into the penalty area in the 52nd minute and McBride directed his header past Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor.

Nevland made the points safe three minutes from time when he broke clear of the Blues defence and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net.

Birmingham remain a point short of safety while Fulham move out of the drop zone on goal difference at the expense of Reading who suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham.

A 16th-minute strike from Robbie Keane was enough to give Spurs a 1-0 win over Steve Coppell's side at the Madejski Stadium.

The Republic of Ireland international rounded off a slick Spurs counter-attack with a neat finish from a tight angle inside the penalty area.

Goals from Chris Riggott and Tuncay Sanli gave Middlesbrough a 2-0 win over Portsmouth at the Riverside Stadium which ensured Gareth Southgate's team will play in the Premier League next season.

Defender Riggott headed a Fabio Rochemback corner past Pompey goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown in the 39th minute to open the scoring.

Tuncay added a second for Boro in the 53rd minute when he directed a close-range header past Ashdown from a Stewart Downing corner.

A brace of goals from Antonio Valencia also secured Wigan's place in the top flight as they dented Aston Villa's UEFA Cup hopes with a surprise 2-0 win at Villa Park.

The Latics took a 52nd-minute lead when Valencia's shot from the right edge of the penalty area took a massive deflection off Wilfred Bouma and looped over Villa goalkeeper Scott Carson.

If there was an element of fortune about the Ecuador international's first goal he made up for it with a superb individual strike from a tight angle in the 63rd minute.

Roque Santa Cruz struck twice as Blackburn recorded a 3-1 win over Derby which ensured Paul Jewell's side will finish with the lowest points total ever in the Premier League.

Kenny Miller had given the Rams the lead in the 19th minute when he on to a long kick from goalkeeper Roy Carroll and stabbed the ball past Brad Friedel from the edge of the penalty area.

But Carroll fumbled Morten Gamst Pedersen's shot in the second minute of added time in the first half and Roque Santa Cruz smashed home the rebound from inside the six-yard box.

The Derby defence failed to clear the ball two minutes after the half-time interval and Jason Roberts picked up the loose ball then drilled a low shot into bottom left-corner of the net.

Santa Cruz collected his second of the game in the 77th minute when he headed home from close range after good work down the right by David Bentley.

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