Rooney puts United seven clear

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IOL pic jan31 soccer manchester rooney Reuters Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (right) and Patrice Evra chat after their English Premier League soccer match against Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, on Wednesday.

London - Wayne Rooney struck both goals for Manchester United as they recovered from conceding an early goal to earn an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Southampton and open up a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League on Wednesday.

Southampton had the temerity to score after three minutes at Old Trafford but order was quickly restored with Rooney equalising five minutes later and completing the turnaround with a 27th-minute tap-in.

In the battle for top-four places there was frustration for the main contenders with third-placed Chelsea denied a fifth consecutive away league victory as they let slip a 2-0 lead at Reading to draw 2-2.

Chelsea remain four points clear of Tottenham Hotspur who needed a Gareth Bale equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Norwich City while sixth-placed Arsenal drew 2-2 at home to Liverpool having trailed 2-0 with half an hour remaining.

Fifth-placed Everton cashed in on the dropped points of those around them in the table with a 2-1 home victory over West Bromwich Albion to move one point behind Tottenham and three clear of Arsenal.

In a London derby alongside the River Thames Fulham beat West Ham United 3-1. - Reuters

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