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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012

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Hands off: Manchester United's Antonio Valencia is brought down for a penalty by Stoke's Jon Walters on Tuesday. AP

United cancels out City's lead at top of Premier League


LONDON — Manchester United wiped out Manchester City's lead at the top of the Premier League on Tuesday with a 2-0 victory over Stoke as its neighbor went down 1-0 at Everton to a goal by a former United player.

Darron Gibson, who left Old Trafford earlier in January, struck on the hour for Everton against City, which is now only top due to its superior goal difference over United.

Defending champion United scored both goals from the penalty spot through Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov.

Tottenham is five points off the lead after Gareth Bale's double helped the north London club sweep past Wigan with a 3-1 win. Chelsea is now seven points adrift of Spurs in fourth after requiring an own goal to salvage a 1-1 draw at Swansea.

Liverpool provisionally climbed above Arsenal into fifth place with a 3-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers, ahead of the Gunners' match against Bolton on Wednesday.

The Premier League's leading sides were in action as their officials were wrapping up deals in the final hours of the January transfer window.

Alex Ferguson's United side was without 11 senior players, including both first-choice goalkeepers, but had little trouble against a lackluster Stoke side that rarely threatened.

United took the lead after Park Ji Sung raced onto a short pass from Paul Scholes and was brought down by Jermaine Pennant.

Hernandez found the bottom corner in the 38th-minute spot kick, sending Thomas Sorensen the wrong way. But he handed over penalty duties to Berbatov seven minutes into the second half after Jon Walters had bundled Antonio Valencia over in the area.

"The first (penalty) one was very debatable," Stoke manager Tony Pulis. "The second one was (a penalty) . . . and the one he didn't give — for a foul on Patrice Evra — was a definite penalty."

At White Hart Lane, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp went to the match straight from his tax evasion trial at a London court. His side had little trouble dispensing of Wigan on another night when Bale shone for the north London club to consolidate its bid for an automatic Champions League qualification place.

Bale volleyed in a 29th-minute opener that was followed up by Luka Modric's cool finish five minutes later from 18 yards.

Bale struck again for his 11th goal of the season in the 64th, before James McArthur scored a consolation goal for Wigan in the 80th.

Miyaichi joins Bolton


BOLTON, ENGLAND — Ryo Miyaichi has left Arsenal to join fellow Premier League team Bolton on loan until the end of the season.

Miyaichi has only played two matches for Arsenal this season, both of them coming as a substitute in League Cup matches.

The 19-year-old winger joined the London club a year ago but spent the second half of last season at Dutch club Feyenoord.

He will hope to tread the same path taken by Jack Wilshere, who joined Bolton on loan in 2010 and is now an Arsenal regular, when fit.

Transfer window closes


LONDON — European soccer's January transfer window closed Tuesday with clubs reining in the lavish spending of recent years in an apparent response to UEFA's strict new financial controls.

The only incoming deal by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini on Tuesday was to sign 32-year-old David Pizarro on loan from Roma for the rest of the season to bolster his midfield options.

Defender Wayne Bridge was sent to Sunderland on loan, although City was unable unload troublesome striker Carlos Tevez, who has not played since refusing to resume warming up for the club during a Champions League match in September.

One club interested in Tevez was French leader Paris Saint-Germain, which has been embarking on its own spending spree since the last offseason under Qatari ownership.

Despite pursuing a string of leading players — including David Beckham and AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato — PSG has failed to capture the superstar it craves, although signing midfielder Thiago Motta from Inter Milan on Tuesday will help to soften the blow.

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