United close gap with Arsenal with 2-0 win

Manchester United close in on the lead of the English Premier League defeating champions and current leaders Arsenal 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Manchester United closed in on the lead of the English Premier League on Saturday as they defeated the champions and current leaders Arsenal 2-0 at Old Trafford. Argentine midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron and England's Paul Scholes struck in each half of a pulsating encounter as United eased the painful memories of the 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal in May that handed the north London club last season's championship. A depleted United side took Sir Alex Ferguson's side to their third successive league victory, elevating them to second in the table on 32 points, just three points behind Arsenal at the top. The double winners Arsenal travelled to Old Trafford on Saturday morning for the second of two matches in the space of two weekends that could help shape Manchester United's season after Sir Alex Ferguson's side beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield last week. United were still handicapped by injuries to David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane and Quinton Fortune, who, it was revealed just before kick-off, will be out for three months with a broken leg. The game had been billed as a shoot-out between Thierry Henry, with 15 goals and Ruud van Nistelrooy, with 16 strikes to his name. The Dutchman had the first shot on target, but Rami Shaaban, who was in the Arsenal goal in place of the injured David Seaman in goal, dealt well with the threat. Next it was the Frenchman who had a chance to open the scoring after 12 minutes. He timed his run well to beat the offside trap, but his international colleague Fabien Barthez got down well to save. United's French international goalkeeper was tested again not long after as another Gallic footballer put pressure on his compatriot. Henry found Robert Pires and his first time lob lob drifted just past the post after another sparkling one-touch move from inside the visitors' own half. There was growing pressure on both goals and it was the Arsenal defence which cracked first after 22 minutes. Paul Scholes pulled the ball back from the byline, picking out Juan Sebastian Veron, who charged into the penalty area without breaking his stride to bury his shot from close range. United continued to press after the restart and Veron's quickly-taken free-kick found Ryan Giggs but Stuart Taylor, on a as substitute in place of Shaaban, came off his line to block. Arsenal had two good chances to score within the space of a minute. A Pires drive was deflected for a corner off Mikael Silvestre. From the subsequent corner Pascal Cygan then saw his own attempt blocked by John O'Shea just as the goal beckoned. However, Manchester United regrouped and put the game beyond the defending champions in the 73rd minute. An Ashley Cole thrown-in was cut out by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the ball fell to van Nistelrooy. The Dutchman delivered a perfectly weighted pass to Paul Scholes and the England international ran on to drill the ball past Taylor. The defeat brought to an end Arsenal's run of scoring in 55 consecutive league games. (AP)