Man Utd begin life without Keane

London, November 20:

Ruud van Nistelrooy ensured Manchester United began life without Roy Keane with a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Charlton.

The victory, clinched by the Dutchman’s second-half double, was of huge psychological importance for Alex Ferguson’s squad, 24 hours after the trauma of captain Keane’s shock departure from Old Trafford.

But it made no impact on Premiership leaders Chelsea. The champions extended their lead at the top of the table to nine points courtesy of their 2-0 win over Newcastle and second-placed Wigan’s 3-2 reverse at home to Arsenal. United moved up to third, ten points adrift

of the leaders with a game in hand.

But van Nistelrooy admitted it would take time for the squad to recover from the shock of losing their captain. Alan Smith, occupying Keane’s midfield berth, drilled in a low shot from 20 yards to put United ahead in the 38th. Darren Ambrose fired in a long-range equaliser for Charlton in the 65th but van Nistelrooy restored the lead in spectacular fashion six minutes later after superb work by Wayne Rooney, then sealed the points five minutes from the end.

Chelsea looked sluggish as they laboured through a goalless first half against Newcastle. But a half-time pep talk from Jose Mourinho appeared to do the trick. Joe Cole fired them ahead within two minutes of the restart and Hernan Crespo, celebrating a rare start for Mourinho’s side, killed the contest four minutes later. Damien Duff’s shot, which went in with the help of a wicked deflection, completed the win in dying seconds.

Thierry Henry demonstrated why he is so coveted by Barcelona with another brace of goals as Arsenal claimed their first away win of the season, 3-2 over Wigan. Robin van Persie scored Arsenal’s other goal with Henri Camara and Jimmy Bullard finding the net for Wigan.

Peter Crouch was left waiting for his first Liverpool goal after having a penalty saved by Portsmouth goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown. But his blushes were spared by Boudewijn Zenden. Liverpool ultimately ran out 3-0 winners courtesy of a mishit cross from Djibril Cisse and a second-half effort from Fernando Morientes.

Manchester City and Blackburn shared the points after a 0-0 battle, while Aston Villa eased had a 3-1 win at bottom side Sunderland. West Brom hauled themselves out of the relegation places and pushed Everton down into the drop zone with a 4-0 win.

Italian Serie A

ROME: Juventus opened up a five-point lead at the top of Italy’s Serie A after crushing arch rivals Roma 4-1 at the Olympic stadium here on Saturday. Pavel Nedved headed the title-holders in front in first-half stoppage time before a three-goal salvo in six minutes brought Roma’s three-match winning run to an abrupt end.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s clinical right-footed strike gave Juve a two-goal cushion and two close range finishes from French striker David Trezeguet piled on the misery for sorry Roma. Juve’s French defender Lilian Thuram was then sent off for a professional foul on Vincenzo Montella and Francesco Totti rammed home the resulting penalty that was of little consolation to the 2001 champions.

The end of the match was marred by clashes between Juve fans and police but order was quickly restored. Juventus, who won their first nine matches, have 33 points from their 12 games played, followed by AC Milan on 28 and Fiorentina on 25. Roma remain in sixth position on 18 points.

In an early match. a header in the 87th minute from Brazilian Felipe gave Udinese a 1-0 win at home to Sicilian side Messina.