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Manchester United Beats Stoke 2-0; Sunderland Wins at Newcastle

Manchester United won 2-0 at Stoke City as it nears a record-extending 20th English league title. Sunderland defeated Newcastle 3-0 in today’s northeast derby.

Michael Carrick opened the scoring in the fourth minute, and Robin van Persie converted a penalty kick in the 66th as United restored a 15-point lead in the standings.

United leads the Premier League with 80 points from 32 games, followed by defending champion Manchester City, with 65 from 31 matches. Then come Arsenal (59), Chelsea and Tottenham (both 58) and Everton (55). Teams play 38 games in all.

The result deepens Stoke’s relegation concerns. It’s slipped to 16th place, only three points above the three-team drop zone, and was today overtaken by Sunderland on goal difference.

Sunderland’s win over Newcastle eased its own relegation risks and clinched a first victory for new manager Paolo Di Canio.

Stephane Sessegnon gave the visitors the lead in the 27th minute at St. James’ Park. Adam Johnson made it 2-0 in the 74th minute with a left-foot curling shot from outside the penalty area.

David Vaughan slammed in a shot from the left of the area for the third goal, in the 82nd minute. It was Di Canio’s second game in charge.

At the bottom of the standings, Reading and Queens Park Rangers have 24 points, with Wigan on 31, and Aston Villa, Stoke and Sunderland all on 34. Norwich has 35 and Newcastle 36.

Yesterday, Arsenal beat Norwich 3-1, Aston Villa drew 1-1 with Fulham, and West Ham tied 1-1 at Southampton. Reading drew 0-0 with Liverpool and Everton defeated Queens Park Rangers 2-0.

Also today, Manchester City plays Chelsea in an F.A. Cup semifinal. The winner will play Wigan, which beat Millwall 2-0 yesterday.

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