Magical Macheda shines for United

London - Federico Macheda was the hero again for Manchester United as the champions kept their noses in front of Liverpool at the top of the English Premier League on Saturday.

After Liverpool had thumped Blackburn Rovers 4-0 in the early match to go two points clear, United edged to a 2-1 win at Sunderland, with Macheda scoring a late winner for the second weekend in a row, to restore their one-point advantage.

Chelsea survived a late collapse to beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3 and stay third, just three points behind Liverpool, though United still have an extra game in hand.

The pressure was all on United after Liverpool's comfortable win over Blackburn and when Kenwyne Jones equalised Paul Scholes's first-half opener, a shock looked on the cards. But as he did last week in the win over Aston Villa, 17-year-old Macheda came off the substitutes' bench to direct a mis-hit Michael Carrick shot in for the late winner.

At Anfield, Fernando Torres scored two first-half goals, Daniel Agger banged in a third and David Ngog scored the fourth as Liverpool cruised to victory over a hapless Blackburn side. "It's a great result after coming back after Chelsea," Jamie Carragher said.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was delighted to have won so easily, without even needing to risk Steven Gerrard, who is nursing an adductor injury. "We needed to play well, to score goals and we didn't concede. I think that was very positive," the Spaniard said.

Having lost 3-1 at home to Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday, Liverpool needed to bounce back and they took the lead within four minutes through a stunning goal from Torres, who took Carragher's pass on his chest before unleashing an unstoppable volley.

Torres missed a couple of gilt-edged chances to add to the lead before he headed home from a pinpoint Xabi Alonso free-kick.

Agger scored the third, a superb long-range strike inside the last 10 minutes and substitute Ngog headed in from close range just before the end of the 90 minutes.

Chelsea were sauntering to victory over Bolton when they stormed ahead 4-0 at Stamford Bridge. Three goals in a mad eight minutes brought Bolton back in to it, but Chelsea hung on for victory.

Arsenal came from behind to win 4-1 at Wigan Athletic, thanks to goals from Theo Walcott, Mikael Sivestre, Andrei Arshavin and Alex Song, keeping them in fourth and on course for the fourth Champions League spot.

Middlesbrough boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation with a 3-1 win over Hull City, while bottom side West Bromwich Albion drew 2-2 at Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur beat West Ham United 1-0 in a London derby.

  • Newcastle salvaged a crucial 1-1 draw at Stoke in a late match yesterday to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation.

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