Man Utd Maintain Lead at Top; West Ham Off the Bottom

London, Dec 27 (DPA) Manchester United maintained their lead at the top of the English Premier League while West Ham United moved off the bottom in an eventful Boxing Day programme.

Dimitar Berbatov scored both goals to help United stay two points clear of Manchester City, who moved ahead of Arsenal into second with a 3-1 win at Newcastle United.

Carlton Cole scored twice as West Ham came from behind to win 3-1 at Fulham, while Bolton Wanderers, Stoke City and Wigan Athletic also claimed victories.

Berbatov put United in front early on at Old Trafford and the home side then proceeded to do everything but add to their lead in an utterly dominant second half.

Sunderland held their own in the second half but Berbatov secured the points with a deflected strike on 57 minutes and United eased to a comfortable win in the end.

Neighbours City were too strong for Newcastle as they claimed a 3-1 victory at St James' Park, Carlos Tevez scoring twice.

Gareth Barry put City ahead inside two minutes and Tevez made it 2-0 just three minutes later and though Andy Carroll gave Newcastle hope when he pulled one back with 18 minutes to go, Tevez killed them off with his side's third soon after.

At Craven Cottage, Avram Grant's West Ham side fell behind early to Aaron Hughes's early header but two goals from Carlton Cole and one from Frederic Piquionne sealed a first away win of the season for the Londoners.

The victory lifted West Ham off the foot of the table into third from bottom, one point above Wolves, who went down 2-1 at home to Wigan Athletic and level on points with Fulham themselves.

It was the first time Cole has scored two goals in a Premier League match and his efforts will be a massive boost to Avram Grant's hopes of remaining as the West Ham manager.

Matt Taylor and Johan Elmander scored the goals as Bolton moved up to fifth with a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, while Stoke City climbed to eighth after a 2-0 win at Blackburn Rovers.

Later on Boxing Day, Tottenham can regain fifth place from Bolton if they can win at Aston Villa.

The matches between Blackpool and Liverpool, and Everton and Birmingham City were postponed because of the freezing weather.

Third-placed Arsenal and fourth-placed Chelsea clash in Monday's match at the Emirates Stadium.


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