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United move closer to title

Manchester City took the field at the Etihad Stadium, 18 points behind their rivals.

Manchester United team members. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Manchester United edged closer to their 20th league title when a Titus Bramble own goal gave them a 1-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday to keep them 15 points clear of Manchester City with eight Premier League games to go.

City, whose manager Roberto Mancini conceded on Thursday that their hopes of retaining the title were over, beat visiting strugglers Newcastle United 4-0 with goals from Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure.

With United's match having kicked off earlier on Saturday, City took the field at the Etihad Stadium 18 points behind their rivals who set a top-flight record of 25 wins from their opening 30 matches. United have 77 points with City second on 62. 

With United and City likely to take the top two spots, the race for the remaining two Champions League places heated up with Tottenham Hotspur bouncing back from successive league defeats by winning 2-1 at Swansea City to leapfrog Chelsea into third place after their London rivals lost 2-1 at Southampton.

Spurs have 57 points, two ahead of Chelsea on 55, with Arsenal, who beat Reading 4-1. Everton stayed on the coat-tails of the leading group when they beat Stoke City 1-0 at Goodison Park to move on to 51 points.

Their winner came when Kevin Mirallas set off on a mazy 70 metres run with the ball before slotting home after 28 minutes.

Arsenal's victory, with goals from Gervinho, Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and a late Mike Arteta penalty, meant Reading, who had new manager Nigel Adkins in charge for the first time, dropped to the bottom below Queens Park Rangers, who also have 23 points, on goal difference. QPR visit Fulham on Monday.

Perennial relegation battlers Wigan Athletic beat Norwich City 1-0 with a late Arouna Kone goal to move out of the drop zone, at least until Aston Villa, who also have 30 points in 18th, host Liverpool on Sunday.