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Premier League: Manchester United 2 Stoke City 0

Manchester United became joint-leaders of the Premier League after a 2-0 win over Stoke City at Old Trafford.

The game struggled to get going at times as United dominated possession without ever creating a clear cut opportunity, and both goals came from the penalty spot as Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov converted either side of half-time.

Both sides produced wayward efforts in the opening quarter of the game, and it was not until Paul Scholes’ deflected volley, which seemed destined for the bottom corner before a slight deflection sent it wide, that United found their rhythm.

The home side continued to dominate possession and midfielder Michael Carrick tried to test Thomas Sorensen from distance but fired wide of the post.

The game finally got the goal it had needed eight minutes before the interval after Park-Ji Sung was brought down by a sliding tackle from Jermaine Pennant. Hernandez grabbed the ball and calmly fired past Sorensen to put his side ahead.

United continued to control proceedings after the interval and eight minutes into the half they were awarded their second penalty of the game.

Jon Walters and Antonio Valencia tangled in the area and when the Ecuadorian fell to the floor referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot. Berbatov calmly stepped up and fired it past the dive of Sorensen.

Chances remained few and far between, but Stoke almost pulled one back when substitute Cameron Jerome leapt above Johnny Evans only to see his effort saved by Ben Amos.

The home side cruised their way through the final half-hour of the match but again were unable to fashion many clear cut chances as Stoke remained defiant in defence.

Scholes saw a late chance well blocked by Robert Huth and Patrice Evra felt he should have had another penalty but his claims were waved away by the referee.

United share top spot with rivals Manchester City, who suffered a 1-0 defeat at Everton.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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