Title rivals United, City win in Premier League

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Associated Press

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 14 at 4:05 PM

LONDON (AP) — Manchester United's seven-point lead over Manchester City stayed intact Sunday after the title-chasing rivals defeated two former powers in the Premier League.

United scraped its way to a 2-1 victory at home against Liverpool. City won 2-0 at Arsenal after playing against 10 men for most of the match.

Robin van Persie sent United on the way to victory over its greatest rival at Old Trafford with his league-high 17th goal of the season. Nemanja Vidic unwittingly made it 2-0 but United had to resort to desperate defense to preserve the lead after substitute Daniel Sturridge's goal in his league debut for Liverpool.

"It was a big game, everyone felt that during the week, and this is a great result," said Van Persie, who joined the team from Arsenal in August.

City enjoyed its first league win at Arsenal in 38 years. Laurent Koscielny's ninth-minute red card for wrestling Edin Dzeko to the ground inside the penalty area proved decisive. Dzeko missed the resulting kick but later added to the superb opening goal by James Milner.

City's Vincent Kompany drew a red card for a two-footed tackle, depriving the team of its captain for three games.

Chelsea, a 4-0 winner at Stoke on Saturday, can keep alive its slim hopes of catching the Manchester clubs by beating Southampton on Wednesday in their game in hand to reduce the gap to United to 11 points.

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ruben Castro scored one goal and set up another to give Real Betis a 2-0 home win over Levante, sending the winners into fourth place in the Spanish league.

Castro set up Joel Campbell to finish a counter attack sprung from a corner kick at the other end to put Betis in front in the seventh minute.

The striker added a goal in the 63rd, firing from just inside the far post to seal the victory that lifted Betis within three points of third-place Real Madrid.

Also, 10-man Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1 at Real Sociedad, allowing the team to climb out of last place.

Alejandro Bergantinos stole the ball and set up Luis "Pizzi" Afonso to give Deportivo the lead with a chip shot in the 27th. Carlos Vela curled in Sociedad's tying goal one minute before halftime. The hosts failed to capitalize on the dismissal of Evaldo for a second yellow card in the 64th.

Deportivo's draw left Osasuna in last place. Sociedad stayed in ninth place.

Later, league leader Barcelona visits fourth-place Malaga, while second-place Atletico Madrid hosts Real Zaragoza.

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MILAN (AP) — Defending champion Juventus struggled again in the Italian league, held to a 1-1 draw at Parma in Serie A.

Andrea Pirlo gave Juventus the lead with a trademark free kick early in the second half, but Nicola Sansone tied it in the 78th minute to preserve Parma's unbeaten home record.

Second-place Lazio is only three points behind Juventus after a 2-0 win at home to Atalanta. Former Atalanta striker Sergio Floccari gave Lazio the lead after the ball struck his arm, and an own goal from Davide Brivio sealed the result.

Napoli is two points further back after cruising to a 3-0 win at home to Palermo. Fifth-place Fiorentina surprisingly lost 3-1 at Udinese on two goals by Antonio Di Natale.

Juventus was eager to get back to top form after a loss at home to 10-man Sampdoria last week and a narrow extra-time victory over AC Milan in the Italian Cup.

Parma is the only team left in Serie A yet to lose a game at home.

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PARIS (AP) — Bastia won its second consecutive game in the French league with a 2-1 victory at Reims, whose run without a victory is now at 13 matches.

Bastia hadn't scored away from home in its previous five games, but Ilan ended that run when he acrobatically sent home a cross from Jerome Rothen in the 20th minute.

Florian Thauvin doubled Bastia's lead three minutes into the second half with another spectacular goal, following an assist from Anthony Modeste. Reims struck in the 63rd when Gaetan Courtet was left unmarked to slot home Diego's cross.

Modeste put the ball in the back of the net in the final minute, but the goal was disallowed because of offside.

Nice crushed Valenciennes 5-0 to move above its opponent and share fifth place with Rennes.

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — PAOK failed to crack Atromitos' defense and settled for a 0-0 draw at home in the Greek league.

The result allowed defending champion Olympiakos, which beat Levadiakos 1-0 away Saturday, to extend its lead to 10 points with 13 rounds remaining. Atromitos climbed to third place, six points behind PAOK.

Also Sunday, OFI beat Aris 2-0, Veria drew 1-1 at Panionios and Panathinaikos was held to a 0-0 draw by Giannena.

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