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Fiji Time: 7:32 PM on Saturday 23 August

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United goes 15 clear

Ap
Monday, February 25, 2013

LONDON - Ryan Giggs marked his 999th match as a professional on Saturday by scoring in another age-defying, influential display to help Manchester United go provisionally 15 points clear at the top of the English Premier League.

A late goal from the Welsh midfielder followed a fine strike by defender Rafael da Silva in a 2-0 victory over last-placed Queens Park Rangers.

"He's delivered again," United manager Alex Ferguson said of the 39-year-old Giggs. "He's an amazing man."

Even if second-placed Manchester City beat Chelsea on Sunday, Giggs seems headed for a 13th league title at the club where he has spent his entire career.

For Arsenal, the season is mainly coming down to salvaging a spot in the Champions League. They did manage to put recent cup disappointments behind them with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa to go provisionally a point behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

Villa sank back into the relegation zone with Wigan - who lost 3-0 to Reading - and QPR.

Also, sixth-placed Everton fell five points behind Arsenal after losing 2-1 at Norwich, West Bromwich Albion rose to seventh by beating Sunderland by the same score and Fulham defeated Stoke 1-0 in a mid-table clash.

United have dropped only 11 points all season, and took just 23 minutes to go in front at Loftus Road with an exquisite opener.

Robin van Persie broke down the right and whipped in a cross that goalkeeper Julio Cesar parried. But the ball fell to Rafael, who blasted it into the top corner from 25 metres.

Van Persie, however, had to come off before halftime with a hip complaint.

United then relied on their oldest player to extend the advantage in the 80th when Nani set up Giggs to beat Cesar from an acute angle.

As United march toward a record-extending 20th English title, the second tier looms for QPR, who are seven points from safety. At Emirates Stadium, Arsenal recorded a third straight league victory but it came after a week when the team's hopes of a first trophy since 2005 seemed to end.

Second-tier club Blackburn knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup and Bayern Munich won the first leg of their Champions League last-16 meeting 3-1.

Against Villa, the Gunners scored after just six minutes, though, to settle some of the nerves. Santi Cazorla was at first denied by goalkeeper Brad Guzan but sent the rebound into the net.

The failure to build on that proved costly as Andreas Weimann levelled in the 68th after charging through the Arsenal defence unchallenged before striking from 25 metres.

But Cazorla swept home his 11th goal of his debut season in the 85th after meeting a cutback from Nacho Monreal.

"We went through some difficult days and we responded in a united way," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

Villa are left to scrap it out in the relegation zone after Wigan rose ahead on goal difference.

Reading are six points ahead of bottom-placed QPR but a point behind Villa and Wigan.

Norwich are eight points clear of danger after Grant Holt secured his team's first league win in two months.


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