Imperious United sweep Arsenal aside

LONDON: Manchester United closed the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea as the champions swept to an impressive 3-1 win against title rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side stunned the Gunners with two goals in four minutes in the first half at the Emirates Stadium and were never in danger of surrendering their lead.

Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia pushed Nani's cross into his own net before Wayne Rooney put the champions in complete control with his 100th Premier League goal.

South Korea winger Park Ji-Sung added United's third goal in the second half to ensure Ferguson's men moved within one point of Chelsea thanks to their most emphatic performance of the season.

England star Rooney demonstrated the predatory instincts that make him, on current form, the most lethal forward in the world, but it was Portugal winger Nani, revitalised in recent weeks, who stole the show with a superb display. Arsenal, beaten for the first time in 11 league games, had no answer to either player and, although Thomas Vermaelen got one back late on, Arsene Wenger's team looked short of the resilience and cutting edge needed to win the title. Belgian defender Vermaelen reduced the deficit in the 80th minute when his acrobatic volley from the edge of the area deflected in off Brown.

With Chelsea's victory at Burnley on Saturday moving the leaders four points clear of United and five ahead of Arsenal, both teams knew a defeat could be disastrous to their title hopes.

Spanish La Liga

MADRID: Sevilla breathed new life into their Champions League ambitions with a 2-1 victory over fellow European hopefuls Valencia on Sunday with Alvaro Negredo grabbing both the goals.

It was a key game for Sevilla who had suffered a worrying slump since Christmas, losing three of their last four games, but they rose to the occasion against third-placed Valencia. From a 22nd-minute corner Sevilla went ahead as Julien Escude flicked on the ball for Negredo to slot home.

Midway through the second half Negredo finished off a well-worked move for Sevilla's second, and his seventh of the season. Valencia battled gamely in the later stages with top-scorer David Villa conjuring up a couple of chances before David Navarro scored a consolation goal in injury time. The result moved Sevilla up to fourth place on 36 points, three behind Valencia in third. Barcelona still lead the table with 52 points, five ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

Villarreal sacked coach Ernesto Valverde following the club's 2-0 defeat at home to Osasuna. Juanfran Torres scored both Osasuna's goals. Atletico Madrid coach Quique Sanchez is another man under pressure after his side crashed 2-0 at home against relegation-threatened Malaga.

Malaga took an early lead with an unmarked Sergio Duda firing home after just three minutes. On the counter-attack after the break Malaga grabbed a second through Javi Lopez with the visitors moving three points off the relegation zone.