Ron­aldo in­spires United

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

LEAD­ERS Manch­ester United be­gan their hol­i­day fix­tures with a re­sound­ing 3-0 vic­tory at As­ton Villa as the goals flowed in the Pre­mier League at the week­end.

A dou­ble from an in­spired Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and a thump­ing Paul Sc­holes vol­ley, all in the sec­ond half, briefly gave United a five-point lead be­fore cham­pi­ons Chelsea re­sponded with a last-gasp 3-2 win at Wi­gan Ath­letic to slice it to two again.

At the half­way point of the sea­son United have 47 points from 19 games while Chelsea have 45.

Liver­pool re­mained a dis­tant third at the half­way stage, 13 points be­hind United af­ter Craig Bel­lamy and Xabi Alonso sealed a 2-0 home win over bot­tom club Wat­ford.

Arse­nal stayed in the last Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing spot with a 6-2 thrash­ing of free-fall­ing Black­burn Rovers.

Arse­nal were shocked into ac­tion af­ter three min­utes when Sha­bani Nonda scored a penalty but the ram­pant Gun­ners replied three times be­fore half­time through Gil­berto Silva, Alexandr Hleb and Emmanuel Ade­bayor’s penalty.

Nonda scored again af­ter the break as Rovers threat­ened a come­back only for Robin van Per­sie to score a late dou­ble be­fore Matthieu Flamini com­pleted the rout in added time.

Wayne Rooney was left on the bench for United’s trip to Villa Park hav­ing missed train­ing due to a fam­ily be­reave­ment but his side­kick Cris­tiano Ron­aldo took cen­tre stage.

The Por­tuguese cut through the Villa defence to break the dead­lock af­ter 59 min­utes and then grabbed the killer third goal ei­ther side of Sc­holes’ thump­ing vol­ley that went in off the un­der­side of the cross­bar.

Chelsea’s vic­tory took the day’s goal tally to 32 but they looked to have blown vic­tory when Emile Heskey’s brace can­celled out goals from Frank Lam­pard and Salomon Kalou.

How­ever, in the third minute of stop­page time, Robben cut in from the right to fire the win­ner that keeps Chelsea breath­ing down United’s neck.

DOU­BLE . . . Cris­tiano Ron­aldo cel­e­brates his sec­ond goal for United

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