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Feb 12, 2011

Rooney takes the plaudits

A wonder strike from Wayne Rooney handed Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford in the Premier League, maintaining their advantage over rivals Arsenal.

Rooney delight at best ever strike
• Palmer: Gunners' bouncebackability
• Jolly: Dalglish remains Kop King • Premier League gallery Photo Gallery

One week after slumping to defeat against Wolves, United looked to be heading for another setback when David Silva's fortunate equaliser cancelled out Nani's opener - but Rooney came to the rescue with his fifth league goal of the season. The result leaves City eight points behind leaders United, who have played a game less than their Manchester rivals.

Arsenal ensured United's lead at the top remains at four points after they eased to a 2-0 victory over Wolves at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners face Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday, but there were no signs of them taking their eye off domestic matters as they triumphed through a Robin van Persie brace.

It took all of 16 minutes for the Gunners to strike as Cesc Fabregas, once again linked to Barcelona during the week, put a left-footed cross in for Van Persie, who produced a clever volley to beat Wayne Hennessey. Fabregas should then have scored himself moments later, following fine approach play by Andrei Arshavin, but Richard Stearman somehow kept the ball out.

Theo Walcott, in particular, had plenty of chances to add to the Arsenal lead, but they did not find a second until close to the hour mark, when Van Persie cooly slotted past Hennessey after Walcott's pass.

Tottenham are up to fourth after they came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 in the day's late game. Victory moves Spurs ahead of Chelsea, who visit Fulham on Monday, and it came after Asamoah Gyan had opened the scoring for Sunderland, swivelling brilliantly to drive the ball past Heurelho Gomes while William Gallas was off the pitch changing his boots.

However, the scores were level at the break as Spurs, returned to their full compliment, equalised through the head of Michael Dawson. The script was left for Niko Kranjcar, hero against Bolton last weekend, to repeat his winning act with a technically excellent strike from the edge of the area. Kieran Richardson sent a deflected effort against the bar as Sunderland searched for an equaliser, but the Black Cats remain behind Liverpool in seventh.

Liverpool's renaissance under Kenny Dalglish lost momentum at Anfield as the Reds drew 1-1 with Wigan. Raul Meireles' strike was cancelled out by Steve Gohouri as Dalglish's side failed to move within three points of the Champions League qualifying spots.

Shorn of the services of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger, Liverpool handed a first start to Luis Suarez, but it was the prolific Meireles who opened the scoring. Capitalising on a mistake from James McCarthy, the Portugal international sent a superb volley past Ali Al Habsi for his fifth goal in six matches.

However, Meireles was forced off through injury in the second period, and Wigan deservedly equalised on 65 minutes, Gohouri poking home at the back post. Suarez rattled the bar from a free-kick in response for Liverpool, but the Reds could not find a winner. At the bottom of the table, West Ham's fine week off the field looked set to end in disappointment at the Hawthorns, but Avram Grant's men produced a stunning fightback from three goals down to draw 3-3 against West Brom. The result sees the Hammers move up to 19th, two points adrift of safety.

The Baggies were playing in front of new boss Roy Hodgson, and they responded within three minutes as Graham Dorrans bent a beauty into the top corner. That lead was doubled moments later as Jerome Thomas waltzed through for the second, leaving Grant to look on in disgust at the lack of effort from his side. In fairness, the Hammers should have halved the deficit midway through the first half, only for the linesman to wrongly rule out Carlton Cole's effort, and within minutes the error was compounded as Winston Reid inadvertently found his own net at the back post.

However, West Ham began to hint at a fightback when Demba Ba netted early in the second period, and the prospects of a miraculous recovery grew further still when Cole converted on the hour. Ba then struck again seven minutes from time to grab what could be the most priceless point of West Ham's season.

Blackpool's own survival bid is capitulating quickly, with ten-man Aston Villa claiming a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road. The result leaves Ian Holloway's men hovering two points above the relegation zone, while Villa drop to 15th.

Gabriel Agbonlahor was the man to open the scoring, drifting in unmarked to score the type of goal that has been happening on an all-too-regular basis to Blackpool this season. However, Holloway's men are rarely involved in a boring game, and they hit back immediately with Elliot Grandin glancing home Charlie Adam's corner, before Jean Makoun was sent off late on for Villa.

Birmingham found a late winner in their relegation battle, triumphing 1-0 at home to Stoke. Alex McLeish handed a debut to Obafemi Martins at St Andrew's, and they grabbed three points in injury-time thanks to Nikola Zigic.

Elsewhere, Newcastle and Blackburn produced a forgettable 0-0 stalemate at Ewood Park.

Daniel Sturridge could turn out to be one of the signings of the January transfer window after his third goal in three games gave Bolton a 2-0 win against Everton.

On loan from Chelsea, the England Under-21 striker put the match out of Everton's reach. Sturridge extended Bolton's lead after England defender Gary Cahill opened the scoring with his first goal of the season.

It was just the result the club were looking for after losing five out of their previous seven league games.

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