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Kagawa's hat trick helps United rout Norwich

Manchester, England (Sports Network) - Shinji Kagawa produced a hat trick at Old Trafford on Saturday to see Manchester United thrash Norwich City, 4-0, to go move 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

The Japan international had not scored for United since September, but his three-goal performance quelled any questions surrounding his scoring abilities.

The win, United's fifth league victory in a row, lifts the club to 71 points on the season. Second-place Manchester City can cut the gap back down to 12 points on Monday when it faces Aston Villa.

Norwich's four-game unbeaten run in Premier League action comes to a end as the Canaries remain on 32 points.

The visitors were organized in defense for the whole of the first half, but United stole a goal just before halftime as Robin van Persie knocked a cross down for Kagawa to slot a shot past Mark Bunn.

There was a sense of tension around Old Trafford as any slip-up would've seen Norwich climb level, but Kagawa gave the Red Devils some breathing room in the 76th minute by calmly guiding a square pass from Wayne Rooney into the bottom corner.

Kagawa completed his hat trick three minutes from time by way of some superb build-up play. Danny Welbeck made an off-the-ball run across the box to open up a lane for Kagawa, which he exploited with a perfectly-weighted first touch off a pass from Rooney and a little dink over the on-rushing Bunn.

Rooney then capped the emphatic result on the stroke of full time when fired a shot from distance over Bunn's outstretched arm and under the crossbar for his 11th league goal of the season.

Chelsea 1, West Bromwich 0

London, England - Chelsea climbed back into third place in England's top flight on Saturday as Demba Ba's first-half strike was enough to earn the Blues a 1-0 win over West Bromwich at Stamford Bridge.

Ba struck in the 28th minute and the Chelsea defense stood tall to keep a clean sheet, lifting the club to 52 points on the season. The Blues go one point in front of Tottenham, which can reclaim third place with a win over Arsenal on Sunday.

West Brom's two-game winning run comes to a halt, leaving the Baggies on 40 points.

Liverpool 4, Wigan 0

Wigan, England - Luis Suarez netted a hat trick to see Liverpool cruise into seventh place with a 4-0 in over Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday.

Stewart Downing got the Reds off the mark in just the second minute of play, but Suarez stole the show from there on out. The Uruguayan scored in the 18th, 34th and 49th minutes to bring his season tally to 21 goals, tops in the Premier League.

With 42 points, Liverpool jumps ahead of Swansea City and West Bromwich to slot into seventh place. Wigan remains fourth from bottom on 24 points.

Everton 3, Reading 1

Liverpool, England - Everton got back to winning ways and improved its chances of finishing the season in a European spot by picking up a 3-1 win over Reading at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Toffees came into the weekend riding a two-game losing skid, but goals from Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas overturned the slide to see the club improve to 45 points on the season, two points shy of fifth- place Arsenal.

Hal Robson-Kanu pulled a goal back for Reading in the 84th minute. The Royals have lost three straight league matches to stay second from bottom with 23 points.

QPR 2, Southampton 1

Southampton, England - Lowly QPR revived its Premier League survival efforts on Saturday by claiming a 2-1 win over Southampton at St. Mary's.

Loic Remy has opened the scoring for visiting QPR in the 14th minute only to see Southampton get on level terms just before the break through Gaston Ramirez. But Jay Bothroyd struck 13 minutes from time to give QPR just its third league win of the season and help the club move just four points shy of safety.

Southampton has lost two Premier League matches in a row to remain on 27 points.

Sunderland 2, Fulham 2

Sunderland, England - Fulham threw away a two-goal lead to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Sascha Riether have given the Cottagers a comfortable edge by the 34-minute mark, but the Black Cats answered three minutes later through Craig Gardner's penalty. Stephane Sessegnon struck in the 70th minutes to draw the home side level and help the club snap a three- game slide to improve to 30 points.

Fulham has taken five points from its last three league games to stay midtable with 33 points.

Swansea City 1, Newcastle 0

Swansea, Wales - Swansea City built upon its Carling Cup triumph by improving to 40 points in league play with a 1-0 defeat of Newcastle at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

Luke Moore produced the lone goal of the affair, scoring five minutes from time with his first goal of the campaign to break Tyneside hearts.

Newcastle has lost two of its last three Premier League matches to remain stuck on 30 points.

West Ham 1, Stoke City 0

Stoke-on-Trent, England - Jack Collison scored the lone goal in West Ham's 1-0 defeat of Stoke City at the Britannia on Saturday, helping the club put a stop to its two-game losing streak.

Behind Collison's goal just before halftime, the Hammers improve to 33 points on the season, level with the Potters, who have lost two successive Premier League contests.

03/02 14:42:25 ET


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