A Shinji Kagawa hat trick helped Manchester United comfortably extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to fifteen points as they beat Norwich 4-0 at Old Trafford. In a first half completely dominated by the league leaders it wasn’t until stoppage time that they finally made a breakthrough.
It came through the Japanese man of the match Kagawa and was a precursor of things to come for the Norwich defense, who struggled to cope with United’s pace and trickery all game.
Kagawa’s next two goals exemplified his performance as two classy finishes put United beyond the reach of Chris Hughton’s men before a Wayne Rooney goal from long distance put the finishing touch onto a typically efficient Manchester United performance.
Luis Suarez scored his third Premier League hat-trick of his career as Liverpool thrashed Wigan 4-0 at the DW Stadium to move up to seventh in the table. In a first half which emphasised Wigan’s defensive frailties and Liverpool’s incisive finishing, goals from Stewart Downing and two from the clinical Suarez gave Brendan Rodgers his largest half time lead as manager of Liverpool.
Suarez secured his hat trick with yet another pinpoint finish to secure three points for the team from Merseyside and grab his 28th goal of the season in all competitions. Wigan’s dismal display leaves them staring at another scrap for survival during the closing stages of the season as they sit in 17th only four points above bottom place QPR.
Harry Redknapp received a special birthday present from his QPR team as they secured a vital three points over fellow strugglers Southampton with a 2-1 victory at St Mary’s Stadium. Despite having only one away game this season it was QPR who managed to make an early breakthrough as January signing Loic Remy silenced the home crowd with a neat finish.
A Gaston Ramirez equaliser, after a Julio Cesar poor save into his path, restored clarity before half time but the stage was set for Jay Bothroyd who scored the winner late on to move bottom club Rangers only four points from safety and drag the Saints back into the relegation dogfight.
Chelsea took a step closer to Champions League football next year as they held on to beat West Brom 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. After Rafael Benitez’s outburst in midweek it was expected for the home crowd to be full of banners and chants all aimed at the interim manager and all wishing him to leave.
Despite the crowd’s negativity towards the manager, they supported the team and were cheering in unison when Demba Ba finished after David Luiz’s clever header into his path. Ba’s goal proved to be enough for all three points and send the European Champions back to third in the Premier League and bring back some positivity to all at Chelsea football club.
Everton won their first game in four matches as they deepened Reading’s worries of relegation with a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park. Goals from Marouanne Fellaini, the influential Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas put the game beyond doubt before a Hal Robson Kanu consolation gave the visiting at least a goal to remember their day by.
The win keeps Everton’s hopes for a European place sky high whilst Reading remain in the relegation zone, however are just a point from safety.
Sunderland recovered from two goals down to salvage a point against Fulham as they drew 2-2 at the Stadium of Light. Fulham’s opener came from the spot after Ashkan Dejagah was brought down and referee Mark Halsey eventually giving a penalty, despite appearing to change his mind. Dimitar Berbatov converted for his tenth goal of the season much to the dismay of the Sunderland support.
Fulham’s second was textbook counter attacking play as a Sunderland corner led to a swift Fulham break finishing with a Sascha Riether finish. The Black Cats pulled a goal back before the break as Mark Halsey gave another penalty, this one appearing less blatant than the one he had given at the other end. Craig Gardner smashed hit home and gave the home crowd rejuvenated hope of coming away with some points.
They did secure a point in the second half, as Sunderland’s best player Stephane Sessegnon powered a shot through the Fulham defense and complete the comeback for a well earned and deserved point for Martin O’Neill’s men.
League Cup winners Swansea made a winning return to Premier League football as they beat Newcastle 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium. After walking out onto the pitch next to the Capital One Trophy, the Swans played their usual passing, attacking style of football but struggled to find a breakthrough against a spirited Newcastle back line.
They waited until the 85th minute as Luke Moore was the benefactor from a lucky break of the ball to earn the Welsh side another three points and move them up to eight in the table.
West Ham won only their third away game of the season as they beat Stoke 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium. Despite having Joe Cole and Matthew Taylor forced off early on through injuries, the Hammers were the team in control and found the breakthrough in first half stoppage time as the two substitutes Jack Collison and Ricardo Vaz Te combined with Collison getting the all important finish.
Stoke piled on the pressure late on but Sam Allardyce’s men held on to move level on points with the Potters and move them to within certain safety.