Terrace View – United Stretch Lead – By Billie Marshall

Manchester United earned a commanding 12 point lead in the title race after a hard-fought victory over a Everton at Old Trafford.

Following their City rivals’ disappointing result yesterday, United knew a win would give them a firm grip on their 20th Premier League Title.

Ryan Giggs had put United ahead after good initial play from Antonio Valencia, but Everton battled and arguably had the better of the first half.

However, against the run of play Robin Van Persie scored his 19th league goal of the season on the stroke of half time to give United breathing space.

Despite a tie against Real Madrid in mid-week, Sir Alex named a strong side, and United started off the better.
Wayne Rooney, playing the number ten role, slipped the ball through to Van Persie who rounded Tim Howard before surprisingly hitting the post from a tight angle.

United made early pressure pay soon after. Valencia won the initial header before Van Persie played it to Ryan Giggs to score via the post.

It was the Welshman’s 23rd successive scoring season in the Premier League and makes him the third oldest scoring player in the Premier League era behind Teddy Sheringham and Dean Windass.

Everton improved as the half went on, and Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman showed good link up play before Osman tested De Gea with a stinging half volley, for which the Spaniard tipped round the post.

Everton’s best chance of the half arguably fell to Kevin Meireles. The Belgian found space down the right but his cross was behind Victor Anichebe as the striker failed to connect. On the stroke of half time Everton were made to pay for missed chances.

In an attempt from the Everton defence to play offside, Giggs slipped through Van Persie who once again rounded Howard before slotting past the American to double United’s lead.

It was the Dutchman’s 19th league goal of the season and puts him two clear of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

United seemed comfortable in the second half as Everton struggled to break them down and create anything concrete.

Everton nearly fell further behind when a United corner was headed goal-wards by Jonny Evans, and the resulting scramble was eventually cleared by Everton Substitute Nikica Jelavic for another corner.

From the resulting corner, the ball was cleared to the edge of the box for Tom Cleverley to hit a technically perfect shot, only for Howard to deny the United player.

Nikica Jelavic did have a half chance late on, but failed to grasp the chance given to him after the mistake from Chris Smalling, minutes after coming on.

It was a vital victory for United, who take advantage of the slip by City yesterday, and with the gap now being 12 points, a 20th Premier League title is now in the hands of Manchester United.

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