United seize on City loss to go 15 points clear
By Rob Harris ,APLONDON -- Manchester United surged 15 points clear at the Premier League summit on Saturday, capitalizing on Manchester City losing at Everton by beating Reading to close in on a 20th English league title.
March 18, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Wayne Rooney clinched an unconvincing 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Reading with a shot that deflected into the net off Alex Pearce in the 21st minute.
“We knew the three points was the most important thing today — especially after City dropped three points,” Rooney said.
With nine games to go, only a monumental collapse by United would now allow City to retain the trophy.
Even then, City would have to show more desire than at Everton on Saturday after the defending champions lost 2-0 despite having a man advantage for the final half hour.
United, though, appears to be unstoppable, especially with the defense not being breached for five successive league games.
“The players are conscious of the importance of the games now ... you don't get points and medals for being complacent,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “And we won't be.”
In the relegation fight, Reading is level on points with bottom-place Queens Park Rangers, which lost 3-2 at Aston Villa. Villa is only a place above the drop zone but six points clear of Wigan, which hosts Newcastle on Sunday.
Southampton is a point further ahead of Villa after beating Liverpool 3-1. Everton is three points ahead of Liverpool but was prevented from moving up to fifth by Arsenal beating Swansea 2-0.
Both Arsenal and Everton provided the perfect response to cup setbacks.
Arsenal's title hopes ended for an eighth straight season on Wednesday by exiting the Champions League at Bayern Munich, while David Moyes' hopes of a first trophy of his 11-year Everton reign were thwarted by an FA Cup quarterfinal collapse to Wigan last weekend.