Rooney at the double as United stay in front

Written by: Pti
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London, Feb 2 (AFP) Wayne Rooney scored twice asManchester United remained five points clear at the top of thePremier League after a 3-1 win at home to Aston Villa.

For much of last night it looked as if United mightextend their lead but second-placed Arsenal came from behindto beat Everton 2-1 at the Emirates and so stay in touch withSir Alex Ferguson''s unbeaten side.

England striker Rooney''s first minute goal -- his firstin open play in the Premier League in 11 months -- gave thehosts the ideal start at Old Trafford.

Rooney controlled United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar''slong goalkick downfield before unleashing a 20-yard dippingshot past Brad Friedel.

The former Everton forward then doubled United''s lead onthe stroke of half-time when he turned in Nani''s cross fromclose range.

"Goals always help strikers but Wayne has got a greatappetite to play," Ferguson told Sky Sports. "Everyone shouldremember that -- we know that.

"It''s an inbred thing in the boy, he''s got a greatappetite to work and fight and he gets his rewards eventually.

"The aim for us is to keep the momentum going andhopefully that gets us where we want to be."

Darren Bent, a 24 million pound transfer window capturefrom Sunderland, gave Villa hope with a 58th minute goalbefore United defender Nemanja Vidic blasted an unstoppableshot into the roof of the net five minutes later.

Louis Saha fired Everton into a 24th minute lead againstArsenal, although the French striker appeared to be severalyards offside.

But Arsenal grabbed a 70th minute equaliser throughAndrey Arshavin.

And the Gunners completed their revival 15 minutes fromtime when unmarked defender Laurent Koscielny headed in aRobin van Persie corner.

English champions Chelsea, still 10 points behind United,came from a goal down to win 4-2 at Sunderland.

Blues captain John Terry made it 3-2 on the hour markbefore striker Nicolas Anelka, whose place has come underthreat follwing Chelsea''s 50 million pound British recordsigning of former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres onMonday, put the result beyond doubt in the 90th minute. MORE(AFP) PM

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