Robin van Persie scored the fastest goal of the English Premier League season as Manchester United stayed a point clear at the top with a 1-0 win over West Ham at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The Dutch forward needed just 33 seconds to give United the lead when, after receiving the ball from Michael Carrick, his first touch eluded Winston Reid before his finish deflected off James Collins and looped over Hammers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

United remained just a point in front of reigning champions and local rivals Manchester City, who won 2-0 away to Wigan.

City, the only unbeaten side in the top flight, looked like they might be held to a frustrating draw before striker Mario Balotelli scored his first league goal of the season in the 69th minute. And three minutes later England midfielder James Milner made it 2-0 with a powerful shot.

European champions Chelsea suffered their second straight home goalless draw, under interim manager Rafael Benitez, a derby stalemate with Fulham. Chelsea moved up one place to third over the Baggies but, more significantly, they are now seven points behind United.

Van Persie’s effort trumped that in an earlier kick-off match of his former Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott, who took 52 seconds to give the Gunners the lead.

But Everton equalised through Marouane Fellaini 20-yard strike in the 28th minute at Goodison Park.

Tottenham moved into fifth with a 2-1 win at home to Liverpool with Gareth Bale playing a role in all three goals of the game.

West Bromwich Albion were brought back down to earth as they conceded three goals in half an hour during a 3-1 defeat at Swansea.

At the Britannia Stadium, Stoke came from behind to beat Newcastle 2-1. Southampton remained in the relegation zone after a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich in referee Mark Clattenburg’s first match in charge since being cleared of racially abusing Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel.AFP