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Rafael, Giggs send United 15 points clear

London, England (Sports Network) - Rafael and Ryan Giggs scored on either side of halftime to lift Manchester United to a 2-0 win over QPR at Loftus Road on Saturday, sending the club 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

United improves to 68 points through 27 games to pull further ahead of second- place Manchester City. The Citizens will have the opportunity to return the deficit to 12 points with a win over Chelsea at the Etihad on Sunday.

Rafael put the Red Devils in front in stunning fashion on Saturday, thumping a first-time volley into the far upper corner in the 23rd minute.

The Brazilian made an impact on the defensive end as well, clearing a 35th- minute QPR header off the goal line to preserve United's clean sheet.

Rafael nearly turned provider shortly after as he delivered an inch-perfect cross to Robin van Persie at the back post, but the Dutchman's attempt was pushed aside by a brilliant save from Julio Cesar.

United clung to its one-goal lead until the 80th minute when Danny Welbeck threaded the ball through to Giggs, who unlocked the QPR defense with a well- timed run. The Welshman took a touch to control before looking up and slotting the ball past Cesar for his second league goal of the season.

Arsenal 2, Aston Villa 1

London, England - Santi Cazorla helped Arsenal turn its dismal week around by producing both goals in the club's 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa at the Emirates on Saturday.

The Gunners were ousted from the FA Cup by Blackburn last weekend and followed that disappointing result with a 3-1 home loss to Bayern Munich in Champions League play.

Cazorla got Arsenal off to a bright start on Saturday by opening the scoring in the sixth minute, but his goal was canceled out by Andrew Weimann in the 68th minute. It looked to be enough to deny the home side the win, but Cazorla struck five minutes from time with a cool finish to see his side improve to 47 points with a third straight league win.

Aston Villa remains on 24 points for the season, slipping into the relegation zone on goal difference.

Fulham 1, Stoke City 0

London, England - Dimitar Berbatov scored the lone goal in Fulham's 1-0 win over Stoke City at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

The Bulgarian striker put his side in front just before halftime, scoring his ninth league goal of the season. Stoke had a brilliant chance to level the score in the 56th minute, but Jonathan Walters had his penalty saved by Mark Schwarzer.

The Cottagers improve to 32 points, one point shy of Stoke City.

Norwich City 2, Everton 1

Norwich, England - Everton threw away three points at Carrow Road on Saturday as Norwich City scored twice in the final 10 minutes of play to earn a 2-1 win over the Toffees.

Leon Osman's header in the 39th minute had put Everton in front, but Kei Kamara, on loan from Sporting Kansas City, leveled the score in the 84th minute. The two sides looked destined to split the points until Grant Holt popped up with the winner in the fourth minute of added time.

The win sees Norwich City extend its unbeaten run in league play to four games as the Canaries climb to 32 points on the season. Everton has lost two in a row to remain on 42 points and slip off the pace in the race for a Champions League spot.

Wigan 3, Reading 0

Reading, England - Wigan climbed out of the relegation zone with a 3-0 victory over Reading at the Madejski on Saturday.

Arouna Kone scored twice in quick succession just before the halftime interval to put the Latics in cruise control for the second half. Maynor Figueroa added a third for the visitors three minutes after the restart while Pavel Pogrebnyak's red card in the 55th minute reduced Reading to 10 men to effectively seal the loss.

Wigan improves to 24 points to move out of the drop zone on goal differential. Reading goes second from bottom, remaining on 23 points.

West Bromwich 2, Sunderland 1

West Bromwich, England - Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace to see West Bromwich pick up a 2-1 victory over Sunderland at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

The Belgian opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 35th minute before doubled West Brom's lead in the 75th minute. Stephane Sessegnon pulled one back for Sunderland four minutes later, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation goal.

The Baggies have won two league matches in a row to climb back into the race for a European spot with 40 points. The Black Cats remain on 29 points after suffering their third successive Premier League loss.

02/23 12:31:19 ET


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