LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo’s double rounded off Manchester United’s 5-0 demolition of 10-man West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday to complete an English Premier League record 11th match without conceding a goal.
United stalwart Ryan Giggs demonstrated his value to the team even at 35 by providing Ronaldo’s first goal after earlier helping to set up Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez and Nemanja Vidic. The defending champion established a three-point lead in the title race, but Liverpool can rejoin it at the top by beating Wigan.
For now, the Reds have Aston Villa for company on 47 points after Emile Heskey scored on his debut to clinch a 1-0 win against Portsmouth.
Tottenham beat Stoke 3-1 to move three points ahead of its relegation rival, which was level with bottom-placed West Brom and three other teams on 21. Kenwyne Jones scored in Sunderland’s 1-0 win over Fulham.
Against West Brom, United took 22 minutes to get into its stride with Berbatov finding the net for the fifth time in seven matches.
United gained a man-advantage in the 40th when referee Rob Styles dismissed Paul Robinson for a sliding challenge on Park Ji-Sung.
West Brom didn’t help its cause when Carson dropped a free kick from Giggs a minute before the break, allowing Tevez to sweep the loose ball into the net. Giggs continued to provide goals after the break with the Welsh midfielder swinging in a corner that Vidic fiercely headed into the roof of the net on the hour — the centre back’s fifth goal of the season.
Five minutes later, Giggs, who holds United’s all-time appearance record, swept down the left wing and whipped in a cross for Ronaldo to side-foot home.
Ronaldo slotted in past Carson again in the 73rd after Berbatov slid the ball to the Portugal winger.
West Brom 0 lost to Manchester United 5 (Berbatov 22, Tevez 44, Vidic 60, Ronaldo 65 & 73); Portsmouth 0 lost to Aston Villa 1 (Heskey 21); Sunderland 1 (Jones 55) bt Fulham 0; Tottenham 3 (Lennon 8, Defoe 21, Dawson 25) bt Stoke 1 (Beattie 57). — AP