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The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 2 January 2013

Football: United keep their distance from defiant neighbours

Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie both scored twice yesterday to ensure Manchester United held on to their seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League after an emphatic 4-0 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side recorded their eighth league win in nine games, and looked comfortable in doing so despite lowly Wigan having the majority of possession.

Rumours that Ferguson might retire as manager at the end of the current Premier League campaign if his team win the title were also quashed, with the Scot insisting he is remaining "for a bit of time".

It is widely accepted that few will get to know when Ferguson is ready to call it a day, with the United chief executive, David Gill, the man tasked with advising the Glazer family about a replacement.

Manchester City beat Stoke City 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Pablo Zabaleta, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero. But City's manager, Roberto Mancini, had to endure the sight of Aguero walking off with a hamstring injury, adding to his concerns as he prepares to lose Yaya Touré to the African Cup of Nations later this month.

Cricket: Martin-Jenkins dies aged 67

Tributes from around the world have flooded in for commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins, who died of cancer yesterday.

Cricket: Clarke close to passing Bradman

Australia captain Michael Clarke is within 87 runs of surpassing Sir Don Bradman's career total of 6,996 runs, and will try to break the record in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka, which begins at the SCG tomorrow. Australia lead the series 2-0.

Football: Villa let lead slip but stop the rot

Danny Graham's injury time equaliser earned Swansea a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa at the Liberty Stadium. The hosts led through Wayne Routledge, but Andreas Weimann's neat finish and Christian Benteke's penalty put Villa ahead before Graham's last-gasp strike.

Football: Saints out of drop-zone after draw

Southampton moved out of the relegation zone yesterday with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Arsenal at St Mary's. Gaston Ramirez put the home side ahead after some below par Gunners defending before Guly do Prado diverted Theo Walcott's free-kick into his own net.

Football: Rare away treat for recovering Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov and Alex Kacaniklic scored as Fulham claimed only their second away win of the season – 2-1 at European hopefuls West Brom. Berbatov put the Cottagers ahead before Romelu Lukaku equalised just after the break with a close-range effort.

Football: Spurs keep up the pace with victory

Tottenham Hotspur clinched a fourth win in five league games by defeating Reading 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Pavel Pogrebnyak headed in the opener for the Royals, but goals from Michael Dawson, Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey took Spurs up to third.

Football: Norwich manager rues soft spot-kick

Mark Noble's controversial penalty helped West Ham to a 2-1 win over Norwich at Upton Park yesterday. "The key decisions in the game did not go in our favour, but we did not start well enough," said Norwich's manager, Chris Hughton.

Tennis: Sharapova hopeful to appear in Open

World No 2 Maria Sharapova, insists her Australian Open plans are still on track despite pulling out of her chosen warm-up event, the Brisbane International, with an injury to her collarbone yesterday.

Rugby union: O'Connell's Lions hopes look thin

Paul O'Connell's chances of appearing for the British and Irish Lions looked more remote than ever yesterday, despite successful back surgery at a hospital in Dublin. The 33-year-old will miss the Six Nations for Ireland and is expected to be out until April.

Football: 'Don't judge us yet' says Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers believes the time to judge his Liverpool side will be the last two months of the season. "This is a time where you have to keep your head down, work hard and give the players every chance to perform," he said.

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