Manchester United slashe Chelsea lead

LONDON - Wayne Rooney was involved in every goal as Manchester United beat struggling Hull City 3-1 yesterday to slash Chelsea's lead to two points in the Premier League.

The result lifted champions United back ahead of Arsenal, who defeated fourth-placed Aston Villa 3-0 with Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas coming off the bench to score two second-half goals, into second place.

Chelsea faltered on Saturday when they failed to score for the first time in 34 games in a 0-0 draw at Birmingham City.

Chelsea have 42 points from 19 games, Manchester United are on 40 from the same number and Arsenal have 38 but with a game in hand.

Rooney fired United ahead from close range on the stroke of halftime at the KC Stadium but a poor back pass from him allowed Hull back into the game in the 58th minute that led to a Craig Fagan penalty.

Rooney redeemed himself when his cross was turned in by Andy Dawson for a 73rd-minute own goal that put United back in front.

Dimitar Berbatov made it 3-1 by tapping in at the far post eight minutes from time, Rooney setting him up with a perfect pass.

Arsenal had occupied second spot after Fabregas lit up the Emirates Stadium before limping off injured six minutes from the end.

Fabregas came on for Brazilian midfielder Denilson in the 58th minute and added steel to the Londoners' title challenge.

The Spaniard won a free kick on the edge of the area in the 65th after being downed by Richard Dunne and his shot from 25 metres sliced through the wall and curled into the top corner.

Fabregas bagged his ninth league goal of the season in the 81st but limped off with a hamstring injury soon afterwards.

Abou Diaby made it 3-0 when he muscled through the midfield and fired a low shot past Brad Friedel in the last minute of normal time.

"I don't believe it is too bad," Wenger told Sky Sports TV when asked about Fabregas.

Other Saturday's results: Manchester City 2, Stoke 0; Tottenham 0, Fulham 0; Liverpool 2, Wolverhampton 0; West Ham 2, Portsmouth 0; Wigan 1, Blackburn 1; Sunderland 1, Everton 1; Burnley 1, Bolton 1. - Reuters