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United, Spurs win to keep the pressure on Chelsea

LONDON -- Manchester United relied on early goals from its much-maligned defense and a stunning strike from Tom Cleverley to secure an impressive 3-0 win at Newcastle on Sunday, keeping the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

Tottenham is just a point behind second-place United after beating Aston Villa 2-0 for a fourth straight win, but the misery continues for Liverpool courtesy of a frustrating 0-0 home draw with Stoke.

Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra scored headers from corners for United in the opening 15 minutes and could then celebrate a rare clean sheet this season after Cleverley's long-range curler in the 71st made the game safe at St. James' Park.

“We came here, defended brilliantly. We fully deserved the victory,” said England striker Wayne Rooney, who starred in his role as an attacking midfielder for United. “The first six games of the season we haven't defended well enough — not just the back four, the whole team, and today we were brilliant against a physical team.”

United is level on points with Manchester City and four behind Chelsea after seven games, with the standings starting to take shape and the likely title contenders back among the frontrunners.

Tottenham can be included among them, with goals by Steven Caulker and Aaron Lennon moving the team to fifth — level on points with fourth-place Everton.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas dropped goalkeeper Brad Friedel to the bench to end the American veteran's record run of 310 Premier League starts in a row, dating back to May 2004. His replacement, summer signing Hugo Lloris, barely had a save to make at White Hart Lane on his league debut.

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Manchester United's Tom Cleverley, left, vies for the ball with Newcastle United's Vurnon Anita, right, during their English Premier League soccer match at the Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle, England, Sunday, Oct. 7. (AP)

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