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Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009

United beats weakened Wolves to catch Chelsea

LONDON (AP) Manchester United cruised past Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 in Alex Ferguson's 900th league match in charge of the English champions on Tuesday.

Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia and Nemanja Vidic scored to ensure United joined league-leader Chelsea on 37 points ahead of the latter's match against Portsmouth on Wednesday.

Aston Villa moved up to third with a 2-0 win at Sunderland, Birmingham climbed to sixth by beating Blackburn 2-1 and Bolton moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-1 victory over West Ham.

Ferguson would have been confident of a victory when he saw Wolves manager Mick McCarthy make 10 changes to the side that beat Tottenham at the weekend.

"They made it very difficult for us, pressed every ball, tackled everywhere," said Ferguson, who took charge of United in 1986. "I thought they put up a good show considering they had most of their second string out. That wasn't surprising given the game they've got against Burnley at the weekend. Once we got the goal, we were comfortable enough."

It took until the 30th minute for United to go ahead, with Rooney scoring from the penalty spot after Ronald Zubar handled.

Vidic's header from Darron Gibson's corner gave United a two-goal cushion before the break and Valencia volleyed in another afterward.

Villa is just five points behind United in third after winning at Sunderland. Emile Heskey put Villa ahead in the 24th after running on to James Milner's pass. And Milner wrapped up the win in the 61st by striking into the top corner.

Sunderland had captain Lorik Cana sent off for a second bookable offense in the 79th when he fouled Milner.

At St. Andrew's, Birmingham registered its fifth successive top flight victory for the first time in 36 years.

Cameron Jerome struck in the 12th and three minutes into the second half, while Blackburn captain Ryan Nelsen grabbed a late consolation.

"To win five games in a row is absolutely sensational," Birmingham manager Alex McLeish said. "I did a double take when I saw that we're in the top six, but we're proud of that and we've earned it. I don't think we've been lucky."

At Reebok Stadium, goals from Chung Yong Lee, Ivan Klasnic and Gary Cahill sealed a vital three points for Bolton to move Gary Megson's team out of the bottom three.

Estudiantes through

ABU DHABI (AP) Three players from Pohang Steelers were ejected, and the South Korean team lost 2-1 to Argentina's Estudiantes on Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Club World Cup.

Leandro Benitez scored off a free kick in first-half injury time and made it 2-0 when he knocked in a loose ball in the 53rd minute. Denilson cut the deficit in half in the 71st.

Estudiantes will play European champion Barcelona or Atlante, the North and Central American and Caribbean representative, in Saturday's final.



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