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United close in as Chelsea lose

London: Carlos Tevez curled in a free kick to give Manchester City a 2-1 victory over leaders Chelsea on Saturday and halt their run of seven Premier League draws.

City’s first victory since September did a huge favour for neighbours Manchester United, with the defending champions thrashing West Ham 4-0 to close the gap on Chelsea to two-points.

“We are disappointed because it was a tough game,” said Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, whose midfielder Frank Lampard missed a late penalty.

Arsenal climbed to third by beating Stoke 2-0, Aston Villa moved up to fifth with a 3-0 victory over Hull, but Liverpool squandered another chance to keep up with the top four by drawing 0-0 at Blackburn.

In the battle against relegation, Portsmouth stayed bottom despite beating Burnley 2-0 and Wolverhampton moved above Bolton in the drop zone by beating Gary Megson’s side 2-1. Birmingham continued their surge up the standings by winning 3-2 at Wigan to claim a third straight victory.

Manchester City got off to the worst possible start with Emmanuel Adebayor accidentally turning the ball into his own net after goalkeeper Shay Given had parried Nicolas Anelka’s eighth-minute shot.

But the Togo striker made amends in the 37th when he tapped home the rebound from close range after his initial effort had bounced back off Chelsea captain John Terry.

As City pushed for a winner, Shaun Wright-Phillips won a free kick when he was fouled by Ricardo Carvalho. Tevez strode up and curled the ball around the defensive wall and beyond goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 56th.

Chelsea was handed lifeline when Nedum Onuoha fouled striker Didier Drogba late in the match, but Lampard’s resulting penalty kick was saved by Given.

At Upton Park, veteran United veteran Paul Scholes scored his 99th Premier League goal Saturday in the rout of West Ham.

The 35-year-old Scholes had indicated on the eve of the match that he could retire at the end of the season because of his failure to make “much of a contribution” to the team.

But he rebutted his own criticism on the stroke of halftime with a trademark volley from 20 metres. (AP)

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