MANCHESTER — Manchester United extended their lead at the top of the English Premier League to 12 points with a routine 2-0 victory over Everton at OId Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side took full advantage of champions Manchester City slipping up at Southampton on Saturday evening to open up a commanding gap as they go in search of their 20th title.
United made few concessions to Wednesday’s last-16 Champions League meeting with Real Madrid in The Bernabeu as a strong starting line-up closed out another crucial win with few alarms.
Real coach Jose Mourinho watched from Old Trafford’s directors’ box as Ryan Giggs scored for the 23rd successive Premier League season to give United an early lead and Robin van Persie added his 23rd goal of the season just before half-time.
Everton never looked likely to repeat last season’s feat of clawing back a two-goal deficit to draw 4-4 at Old Trafford. That was a comeback that fatally damaged United’s title chances but this time they never seriously threatened such a shock.
Manager David Moyes suffered a setback just before kick-off when experienced defender Sylvain Distin pulled out with a virus after feeling unwell in the warm-up, forcing the Scot to draft in John Heitinga after he struggled so badly in the 3-3 draw against Aston Villa. United should have taken an early lead when the pair combined to open up Everton’s readjusted rearguard.