BLUES EDGING CLOSER, CLOSER

LONDON - Manchester United restored their lead at the top of the English Premier League with a 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, responding perfectly to Chelsea's 7-1 over Aston Villa.

LONDON - Manchester United restored their lead at the top of the English Premier League with a 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, responding perfectly to Chelsea's 7-1 over Aston Villa.

It took United 38 minutes to go ahead through a Jlloyd Samuel own goal at the Reebok Stadium.

And it wasn't until 21 minutes from time that United added a second through Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian, leading the line in Rooney's absence, scored the first of his two goals before substitute Darron Gibson added a fourth in the 82nd minute.

Arsenal stayed third after dropping points in a 1-1 draw away to Birmingham. Fourth-placed Tottenham maintained their bid for Champions League football with a 2-0 win at home to Portsmouth that pushed the visitors to the brink of relegation.

Elsewhere Stoke piled the pressure on West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola with a 1-0 win at Upton Park thanks to striker Ricardo Fuller's 69th-minute goal.

Meanwhile, Wolves and Everton shared the points in a goalless draw. At Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard gave Chelsea a 15th-minute lead when he struck at the far post.

But Villa equalised when Norway striker John Carew turned in Ashley Young's cross in the 29th minute.

Lampard restored Chelsea's lead a minute before half-time with a penalty after James Collins tripped Yuri Zhirkov.

Malouda then made sure of the points when the France winger turned in a cross from Zhirkov in the 57th minute.

Lampard had his hat-trick when he scored his second penalty following a foul on Zhirkov by Richard Dunne.

Villa conceded another when Malouda scored his 13th of the season after being played in by Lampard. Salomon Kalou made it 6-1 and there was still time for Lampard to score his fourth.

In the other FA Cup semi-final dress rehearsal, between Tottenham and Portsmouth, former Pompey striker Peter Crouch opened the scoring in the 27th minute when he headed past fellow England international David James.

Spurs doubled their lead four minutes before the break through another Pompey old boy, Niko Kranjcar.

Defeat nudged Portsmouth nearer to relegation and this was made worse by what appeared to be an Achilles injury to defender Hermann Hreidarsson.

Hull's Jimmy Bullard scored against his old club Fulham from the penalty spot in the 16th minute after Jozy Altidore was brought down by Chris Smalling at the KC Stadium.

The Tigers made it 2-0 three minutes after the break when Craig Fagan looped a header over Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. - Sapa-AFP

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