Giggs brace strengthens United's lead

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 January, 1998, 12:00am

MANCHESTER United increased their lead at the top of the English Premier League and pushed Tottenham Hotspur further into relegation trouble with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.

Welsh international Ryan Giggs scored a double for United, finding the net in the 44th and the 67th minutes.

The victory took them to 49 points from 22 matches, seven clear of Chelsea, who moved up into second place with a 3-1 win over Coventry.

Tottenham remain 19th, two points clear of bottom-team Barnsley, and two behind 18th-placed Bolton.

Blackburn, who started the day in second place but slipped to third, play Derby tonight (HK time).

Liverpool kept in touch with the leading pack with a 2-0 win over Wimbledon thanks to two second-half goals from Jamie Redknapp.

Arsenal moved above Leeds and into fifth place with a 2-1 win over their former manager George Graham's team at Highbury.

Dutch players scored all three goals in the game with Marc Overmars scoring twice for Arsenal after 60 and 72 minutes, with a 69th-minute effort from Jimmy Floyd Hassalbaink sandwiched in between for Leeds.

West Ham were the biggest winners of the day after a crushing 6-0 victory over Barnsley at Upton Park.

Both goal-scorers in the 1-1 draw between Aston Villa and Leicester struck against their former clubs with ex-Villa man Garry Parker giving Leicester a 53rd minute lead from the penalty spot and ex-Leicester striker Julian Joachim equalising for Villa three minutes from time.

Everton's recent mini-revival continued with them winning for the third time in four league matches, 3-1 at Crystal Palace, still the only team in the entire English League without a home league win this season. Sheffield Wednesday also eased their relegation fears with a 2-1 win over Newcastle, who have now lost four successive league games.

Bolton drew 0-0 with Southampton who had Francis Benali sent off after 31 minutes for flicking Jason Wilcox in the face - the 10th time he has been dismissed in his 10 seasons at Southampton. Tottenham brought recent signings Jurgen Klinsmann and Nicola Berti to Old Trafford and held their own until stand-in Norwegian keeper Espen Baardsen dropped a cross and allowed Giggs to blast United ahead a minute before half-time.

The Welshman made it 2-0 with a header after 67 minutes to leave Spurs stuck in the doldrums and United seemingly well set for the title.

In-form Coventry shocked Chelsea after 30 minutes, Paul Telfer striking home a low, left-footed shot for the Sky Blues, who had beaten Liverpool and Manchester United in the last fortnight.

But Mark Nicholls equalised for Ruud Gullit's side after 65 minutes and then completed the turnaround for the Londoners with his second five minutes later.

Italian Roberto di Matteo made the game safe with a curling shot 11 minutes from time.

Jamie Redknapp ended Wimbledon's stout resistance at Anfield to keep Liverpool's revival - and their title hopes - alive.

The former England midfielder scored after 71 minutes to break the deadlock and then curled in a fine second goal six minutes from time to seal the points.

Frank Lampard's fifth-minute header put West Ham 1-0 up against Barnsley at Upton Park and Frenchman Samassi Abou doubled the lead on the half-hour.

Abou, who also scored against Arsenal in midweek, linked well with John Hartson to make it three seven minutes after the interval and it was quickly 4-0 through John Moncur. Hartson made it five after 67 minutes and Australian Stan Lazaridis completed the 6-0 spanking on full-time.

Barnsley have now conceded 57 goals in 22 league games this season.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insisted that troubled striker Ian Wright would not be leaving the club this season despite fresh reports that the England star is set to leave.

Wenger warned: 'I think it would be dangerous for him to move now. It could hurt his chances of playing in the World Cup for England.'