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United frustrated by Swans as Chelsea hammer Villa

ESPN staff
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Chelsea ran riot against Aston Villa © PA Photos
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Manchester United missed the chance to extend their lead in the title race to six points as they were held by Swansea at the Liberty Stadium, while Chelsea moved up to third after they romped to victory against Aston Villa.

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Chelsea earned their first back-to-back wins since October as they moved up to third with a 8-0 victory over Aston Villa.

Fernando Torres scored his seventh Premier League goal of the season to give the Blues an early lead, and they never looked in danger of defeat as they cruised to victory with seven different players getting their name on the scoresheet.

Villa, flying high after their shock win at Liverpool last weekend, were quickly brought crashing back down to earth as Torres put the home side ahead after only three minutes. Showing the kind of confidence that has been missing from his game, Torres latched onto a Cesar Azpilicueta cross from the right, to send a powerful header sailing past Brad Guzan.

Villa put up a decent fight after the early setback, but the game was put beyond them around the half-hour mark, with two goals in five minutes. Luiz stepped up to curl a superb free-kick around the wall into the top corner before Branislav Ivanovic nodded in a third from close range after Guzan could only parry Gary Cahill's hooked effort.

In his 500th Premier League start, Lampard opened the scoring in the second half with a sweet strike from 25 yards shortly before the hour mark before Ramires made it five, collecting Lucas Piazon's throughball to slide home.

Villa offered little resistance as Chelsea ran riot, Oscar scoring a well-taken penalty after being dragged down by Chris Herd in the area before Eden Hazard lashed home from an acute angle.

It should have been eight when Guzan pulled off a fine save to deny Piazon a debut goal from the penalty spot, but Ramires put the icing on a superb Chelsea victory when he stabbed home from close range.

Michu scored his 13th goal of the season to earn a point for Swansea © PA Photos
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Manchester United will hold a four-point lead over Manchester City at Christmas after they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Swansea on Sunday.

After champions City snatched three points against Reading on Saturday, United were unable to emulate their rivals, and were left to rue a series of missed chances during the final half hour when they piled the pressure on their hosts.

Patrice Evra had given United the lead in the 16th minute as he headed home from a Robin van Persie corner, but Michu earned a point for the home side when he finished from close range.

Swansea showed little sign of being overawed as they took the game to the visitors, but United halted the hosts' building momentum as they took the lead. Wayne Rooney had already warmed Michel Vorm's hands with a stinging drive before Evra put the visitors ahead, arriving to glance a header in off the far post from a Van Persie corner.

But Swansea recovered well from the blow and Jonathan de Guzman had the ball in the net two minutes later, but the effort was ruled out for Michu blocking off Jonny Evans as the midfielder advanced.

But Swansea soon had their equaliser when Evra was caught out by De Guzman's clever run and when De Gea could only parry the Dutchman's angled shot, Michu was on hand to tap in for his 13th goal of the season.

United began to exert their authority in the second half and Van Persie hit the bar before substitute Javier Hernandez wasted a good chance at goal.

Tempers flared as United frustrations grew. Van Persie was struck on the head by an Ashley Williams clearance after being brought down on the edge of the box leading to some pushing and shoving and a booking apiece for the central protagonists.

But despite their late dominance United were unable to find a way through as United hung on for a point.

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