Rooney brings the pain against Manchester City

WAYNE Rooney heaped more misery on struggling Reading and arch rival Manchester City yesterday.

Rooney scored as United beat second-last and mangerless Reading 1-0 at Old Trafford to move 15 points clear of defending champion City at the top of the Premier League ladder with only nine games to go.

The victory means it has been 17 wins and two draws for United since their last EPL defeat away to Norwich on November 17, putting the Red Devils on the way to beating their own record winning margin of 18 points in the 1999-2000 season.

Everton all but ended City's title defence after a controversial 2-0 win at Goodison Park.

The hosts won despite being reduced to 10-men after Steven Pienaar was sent off in the 61st minute, while City should have had a penalty when they were 1-0 down, but referee Lee Probert awarded a free-kick despite Marouane Fellaini handling the ball inside the Everton box.

City manager Roberto Mancini refused to front the media and left assistant David Platt to do the talking for him.

"Roberto is angry. There is frustration and anger at the way the game's gone. He's just taking stock of the situation and calming down - he doesn't want to come out here and say things that might get him in trouble," Platt said.

Elsewhere, Arsenal moved to within two points of fourth-place Chelsea after a 2-0 win at Swansea after Nacho Monreal and Gervinho struck late in the game.

Liverpool lost ground in the race for European qualification after losing 3-1 at Southampton, Stoke and West Bromwich Albion played out a goalless draw, while Aston Villa beat relegation rivals Queens Park Rangers 3-2 at Villa Park.

Jermaine Jenas gave bottom-of-the-ladder QPR the lead before Villa hit back through Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann.

Andros Townsend equalised in 73rd minute before Christian Benteke score the winner with nine minutes left.

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