Chelsea extend lead, Arsenal close in on United

LONDON: Chelsea opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League after Didier Drogba's double inspired a 2-0 win at Wolves and Everton claimed a 3-1 victory over Manchester United on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea have often dropped points on their travels this season but in-form Drogba ensured the Blues were able to take advantage of United's slip.

At Molineux, Chelsea took the lead in the 40th minute. Yuri Zhirkov exchanged passes with Michael Ballack and the Russian crossed for Ivory Coast striker Drogba to slot home. Drogba added his second in the 67th minute when poor defending from Christophe Berra allowed him to reach Petr Cech's long punt, round goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and drive in his 25th goal of the season.

Third placed Arsenal are just two points behind United after a 2-0 win against Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal made the breakthrough in the 27th minute when Nicklas Bendtner tapped-in Emmanuel Eboue's cross. Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas stroked home a 90th minute penalty after the Spaniard was bundled over by Fraizer Campbell to leave Sunderland without a win in 11 league matches.

West Ham boosted their survival bid with a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Hull at Upton Park. Bottom of the table Portsmouth are eight points from safety after Salif Diao's stoppage time goal gave 10-man Stoke a 2-1 win.

Spanish La Liga

Barcelona: Spanish league leaders Barcelona put their injury concerns to one side as they cruised to a 4-0 win over Racing Santander on Saturday.

The Catalan side had seen their lead at the top reduced to two points following their first league defeat last weekend against Atletico Madrid but they were comfortably in charge from the start against Racing. Barca went ahead after seven minutes through Andres Iniesta who latched onto a loose ball in the penalty area.

Racing went further behind through a tame goal when a Thierry Henry free-kick went straight through their wall, but then minutes later another from almost exactly the same spot was struck perfectly by Rafa Marquez and went in off the post.

There were fewer clear-cut chances in the second half but substitute Thiago Alcantara made Barca's win more emphatic with a deflected goal six minutes from the end.

Sevilla condemned Mallorca to their first home defeat of the season as they ran out 3-1 winners and took a crucial advantage in the fight for a Champions League place.

A couple of goals within the first seven minutes saw Deportivo la Coruna beat Spanish league bottom side Xerez 2-1 and move up to fifth in the table. The home side scored from the penalty spot after just two minutes when Vicente Moreno was punished for holding Diego Colotto. Jose Guardado made no mistake to put Deportivo ahead and soon Xerez were further behind. Ivan Riki latched onto a through ball and shot past keeper Renan Brito. Xerez did come back into the game as Deportivo took their foot off the pedal and Mario Bermejo pulled a goal back. In the second half Deportivo tightened up at the back and Xerez were unable to find an equaliser.