United beats West Brom 2-0 to keep 7-point lead
Manchester United will head into 2013 with a seven-point cushion atop the Premier League after beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on Saturday, although second-place Manchester City stayed in contention with a gutsy 4-3 win at Norwich.
On a high-scoring final Saturday of 2012, Gareth McAuley's own goal and a league-high 14th strike of the campaign by substitute Robin van Persie earned United a seventh straight home win to leave City with a mountain to climb to retain its title.
"We're in a good position. We're halfway there,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said.
The reigning champions withstood the first-half dismissal of playmaker Samir Nasri for an apparent headbutt to hold off Norwich, with Edin Dzeko (2) and Sergio Aguero answering manager Roberto Mancini's call for more goals from his strikers in a thrilling game at Carrow Road.
"Today we showed we are there for the title,'' Mancini said.
Tottenham came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 and move provisionally third _ a point ahead of Chelsea, which visits Everton on Sunday.
The win wasn't without controversy, though, with winger Gareth Bale booked for diving for the third time this season _ and fifth time since the start of last season.
"If people kick me, I'm going to go down,'' Bale said in protest, despite going down easily this time when Sunderland defender Craig Gardner put his arm across Bale's chest. ``People keep saying I'm diving but it doesn't bother me whatsoever.''
At the other end of the standings, Reading climbed three points clear of last-place Queens Park Rangers by beating West Ham 1-0 thanks to Pavel Pogrebnyak's fifth-minute goal. It was only Reading's second win of the season.
Southampton slipped into relegation zone despite drawing 3-3 at Stoke, which equalized in the last minute through a wondrous goal by Cameron Jerome, because Wigan piled on the misery for Aston Villa by winning 3-0 at Villa Park.