Man United 7 points ahead of Man City in England


Associated Press

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 27 at 10:04 AM

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United has a seven-point lead in the Premier League standings as the season reached the halfway point Wednesday. Javier Hernandez scored the winning goal in the 90th minute as United had to come from behind three times in a 4-3 victory over Newcastle.

"Once again they have proved their courage, never gave in — down three times and came back three times, and eventually deserved to win the game," United manager Alex Ferguson said.

"Never mind where we are at this moment in time, this was a championship performance."

Second-place Manchester City lost 1-0 at Sunderland to fall further behind United. Chelsea is now only four points behind City after Juan Mata clinched a 1-0 victory at Norwich.

Tottenham, Everton and West Bromwich Albion are all two points behind Chelsea. Tottenham moved into the fourth Champions League spot, scoring four unanswered goals against Aston Villa's American goalkeeper, Brad Guzan.

Everton beat Wigan 2-1 and West Brom won by the same score at Queens Park Rangers, which returned to the bottom of the standings.

Reading moved ahead of QPR on goal difference by tying Swansea 0-0, while Southampton tied 1-1 at Fulham.

Newcastle appeared headed to its first win at Old Trafford since 1972, but United's players again showed their fighting spirit.

For the eighth time this season in the league, Ferguson's players came from behind to win and kept a 20th English title in their sights.

But there will be lingering concerns about a defense that has now conceded 28 goals in 19 games, compared with 33 all of last season.

James Perch put Newcastle in front after just four minutes. Jonny Evans tied the score for United in the 25th, sliding the ball into an empty net after Hernandez's shot from Robin van Persie's free kick was only half-blocked by goalkeeper Tim Krul.

But Evans then scored an own goal three minutes later, inadvertently knocking a shot from former United teammate Danny Simpson into the net. The goal was initially disallowed because Papiss Cisse appeared to be offside, but the decision was overruled by referee Mike Dean. Ferguson was furious.

But United pulled even again in the 58th, with Patrice Evra's low shot ending up in the bottom corner of the net. Newcastle, though, was back in front 10 minutes later after Cisse took a cross from former United winger Gabriel Obertan.

The lead didn't last long, with Van Persie scoring his 16th goal of the season in all competitions in the 71st minute after his initial shot was saved.

Hernandez, who was playing because of Wayne Rooney's knee injury, was denied by Krul before finally sending a half-volley into the net.