Solskjaer fires United to the top

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s double strike sunk Newcastle and put Manchester United on top of the English Premiership on Sunday.

Solskjaer scored just before and after half-time to claim his first league goals at Old Trafford for over three years and take Sir Alex Ferguson’s side above champions Chelsea on goal difference.

United had failed to win their previous two league matches but, inspired by a superb display from Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo, they got back on track against lacklustre Newcastle.

After Chelsea’s draw against Aston Villa on Saturday, a win against Newcastle was crucial if United were to keep the pressure on Jose Mourinho’s side.

Norwegian striker Solskjaer broke Newcastle’s resolve in the 41st minute when he tapped-in after Ronaldo had driven a shot against the post.

He added a second three minutes after the break when he deflected Nemanja Vidic’s shot past Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper.

Elsewhere on Sunday, South Korea winger Seol Ki-Hyeon piled on the misery for West Ham as his second-minute goal clinched a 1-0 for Reading at Upton Park.

Seol scored with a superb long-range strike after 80 seconds at Upton Park to condemn West Ham to a fifth consecutive defeat and claim a fourth victory of the season for newly promoted Reading.

West Ham have struggled to find any kind of form since the arrival of Argentina stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano in August and Alan Pardew’s side were again below their best.

Tevez tested Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann with a couple of long-range efforts but the closest West Ham came to equalising was a Yossi Benayoun strike that was cleared off the line by Steve Sidwell in the final moments.

Tottenham had started the day in the bottom three but they earned only their second win of the season as goals from Danny Murphy and Jermain Defoe helped beat Portsmouth 2-1 at White Hart Lane.

Murphy back-heeled Tottenham into a first minute lead after David James had failed to hold Dimitar Berbatov’s header.

Defoe increased the advantage when he scored his first goal of the season from the spot after Pedro Mendes was penalised for a foul on Didier Zokora.

Television replays suggested referee Chris Foy had got it wrong as Zokora went to ground even though former Tottenham midfielder Mendes had made no contact.

Nigerian striker Kanu pulled one back just before half-time as he scored his fifth goal of the season with a powerful header from Gary O’Neil’s cross.

But Harry Redknapp’s side slipped to a second defeat in a week as they were unable to break down Tottenham again after the interval.

Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy grabbed a late winner as his side beat Wigan 2-1 at Ewood Park.

But Blackburn’s debutant goalkeeper Jason Brown, on as a second half substitute for the injured Brad Friedal, deserves a share of the limelight after saving a penalty just minutes before McCarthy’s winner.

Emile Heskey had given Wigan a second-minute lead with an impressive finish from Emmerson Boyce’s cross.

South Africa star McCarthy spurned a series of chances before David Bentley curled in an excellent equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Paul Jewell’s side had a chance to go in front when Andre Ooijer’s 77th minute challenge on Heskey was adjudged to be a penalty.

But Svetoslav Todrov’s spot-kick was saved by Wales stopper Brown and Blackburn clinched a fourth successive win when McCarthy tapped in nine minute from full time after Jason Roberts set him up.

On Saturday, Liverpool had suffered another away-day disappointment as they were beaten 2-0 at Bolton, who scored through Gary Speed and Ivan Campo.

Robin van Persie marked Arsene Wenger’s 10th anniversary as Arsenal manager with two goals, including a superb volley, as the Gunners won 2-1 at Charlton.

Gabriel Agbonlahor’s header extended Aston Villa’s unbeaten start under Martin O’Neill as they drew 1-1 at Chelsea, who had taken the lead through Didier Drogba.

Sheffield United won for the first time since their promotion last season as they beat Middlesbrough 2-1 at Bramall Lane.

Micah Richards scored an injury time equaliser for Manchester City at Everton after Andrew Johnson had given the home side the lead.

But City’s joy was short-lived as midfielder Joey Barton faces a police investigation after being accused of celebrating Richards’s goal by baring his backside at the home fans.

Watford will try to climb out of the relegation zone on Monday night when they play Fulham at Vicarage Road. — Sapa-AFP

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Steve Griffiths
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