Robin van Persie scores, Manchester United see off Stoke

Robin Van PersieManchester United's Robin van Persie scores a penalty during their English Premier League soccer match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England. (Reuters)

Manchester United closed in on their 20th title when they won 2-0 at struggling Stoke City on Sunday and need only seven points from their remaining six matches to reclaim the Premier League crown.

Michael Carrick toe-poked United ahead with a scrappy goal after four minutes and Robin van Persie ended his 10-match scoring drought with a 66th-minute penalty to seal the points in a game United dominated from start to finish.

They now have 80 points from 32 games, 15 clear of current champions Manchester City, who have 65 with seven matches to play.

City were not in league action at the weekend as they were facing Chelsea at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

"It was an important win and we are one game closer to the title. The important thing is not to take our eye off the ball," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.

At the other end, Sunderland won their first match under new manager Paolo Di Canio, beating Newcastle United 3-0 in a thunderous Tyne-Wear derby to boost their survival chances.

It was their biggest win over their arch-rivals at St James' Park since 1966 and their first there since 2000.

The win, their first for 10 league matches, came thanks to goals from Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and David Vaughan, and together with Stoke's defeat, lifted Sunderland into 15th place with 34 points.

Stoke, who have now taken just one point from a possible 21, slipped back to 16th with 34 points, level with Sunderland and Aston Villa and just three clear of FA Cup finalists Wigan Athletic in 18th.

Dominant United

United, who stumbled when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Manchester City on Monday, had it easy against a Stoke side, who never looked like getting anything from the game after falling behind in the fourth minute.

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