LONDON — Manchester United opened a season-high, 12-point lead in the English Premier League, defeating Everton 2-0 Sunday on goals by Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie.
The 40-year-old Giggs beat American goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 13th minute at Old Trafford to become the only person to score in every season of the Premier League, which began in 1992-93. Van Persie scored in first-half stoppage time, his league-high 19th goal this season.
Seeking to extend its record for league titles to 20, Manchester United (21-3-2) has 65 points, while defending champion Manchester City (15-3-8) has 53 following Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Southampton.
“We’ve got to win our games regardless of what happens with City and if we concentrate on our own games, we’ll be OK,” United manager Alex Ferguson said.
United plays Real Madrid Wednesday in the first leg of the second round of the Champions League.
“I was going to make about seven changes to the game but when I saw yesterday’s result, I changed that because we knew if we got a result it would put us in a fantastic position,” Ferguson said.
Everton (10-4-12) is sixth with 42 points, six behind fourth-place Tottenham for the final Champions League berth.
Also Sunday, Aston Villa climbed out of the relegation zone by beating West Ham 2-1 and Christian Benteke’s penalty kick in the 74th minute and Charles N’Zogbia’s goal on a free kick in the 78th. Ashley Westwood had an own goal past American goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 87th for Aston Villa (5-12-9), which ended an eight-match winless streak and climbed out of the relegation zone.
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Lionel Messi extended his Spanish league record by scoring in his 13th straight match, and Barcelona routed visiting Getafe 6-1.
Andres Iniesta passed for Alexis Sanchez for the opening goal in the sixth minute, and Messi scored in the 13th off another move started by Iniesta. Messi’s goal was his league-leading 35th in the league this season and 46th in all competitions. It was the 299th of his Barcelona career in all competitions.
David Villa, Cristian Tello, Iniesta and Gerard Pique scored second-galf goals for Barcelona (20-1-2). It opened a 12-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid (16-4-2), which played later at Rayo Vallecano. Defending champion Real Madrid (14-5-4) is 16 points back.
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MILAN — Mario Balotelli converted an 82nd-minute penalty kick for his third goal in two games, giving AC Milan a 1-1 tie at Cagliari.
Balotelli, who scored twice in his debut last weekend following his transfer from Manchester City, scored after he was fouled by Davide Astori. Victor Ibarbo had put the hosts ahead in the 45th minute when he headed in Daniele Conti’s free kick.
AC Milan (12-7-5) dropped into fifth with 41 points, two behind Inter Milan (13-7-4), which beat Chievo Verona 3-1 on goals by Antonio Cassano in the second minute, Andrea Ranocchia in the 26th and Diego Milito in the 50th.
Ninth-place Roma (10-10-4) lost 3-1 at Sampdoria in its first match since Aurelio Andreazzoli replaced Zdenek Zeman on an interim basis.
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FRANKFURT, Germany — Defender Pavel Krmas scored on a header off a corner kick in the 87th minute to give Freiburg a 1-0 victory over Fortuna Duesseldorf and move his team up to fifth in the Bundesliga.
Mainz held gained a 1-1 draw at next-to-last Augsburg. American defender Michael Parkhurst made his debut for Augsburg, entering in the 43rd minute.
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PARIS — Andre-Pierre Gignac scored on a spectacular strike in the 52nd minute, and Marseille salvaged a 1-1 draw with Evian in the French league despite finishing two men short.
Marseille defender Kassim Abdallah was ejected in the 56th for fouling Saber Khlifa, leading to Yannick Sagbo’s penalty kick in the 59th. Marseille’s Jordan Ayew was sent off in the 74th for his second yellow card.
Marseille (13-7-4) is third with 43 points, eight behind Paris Saint-Germain (15-3-6).MORE IN Sports WirePORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. Full StoryFORT MYERS, Fla. Full Story
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