Alex Ferguson hails battling Manchester United

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was full of praise for his side after they gritted out a 1-0 win over Bolton on Saturday to move five points clear at the Barclays Premier League summit.

Dimitar Berbatov's goal two minutes from time - 12 minutes after the dismissal of United defender Jonny Evans - proved decisive at Old Trafford as the Red Devils capitalised on Arsenal dropping two points in a 2-2 draw at West Brom.

"We have had five massive games in the last couple of weeks," said Ferguson.

"It has been a hard programme and the lads deserve a lot of praise for that.

"This was not a 100% top performance from us but we never gave in.

"That is what the character of this club is all about. No other club in the country has got that.

"We are fantastic at gritting our teeth and getting something out of a dead situation."

Albion were 2-0 up against the Gunners just before the hour when Peter Odemwingie took advantage of a mix-up between Manuel Almunia and Sebastien Squillaci to add to Steven Reid's early header.

The visitors staged a comeback with goals in the 70th minute from Andrey Arshavin and 78th from Robin van Persie, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger took the positives from the draw.

"Mathematically we lost two points, but psychologically I think we won a point, because when you are 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, you cannot be too unhappy with this comeback," said the Frenchman.

"I said that no matter happened today, it would not be over, but for the team it was important not to lose."

Tottenham lost ground in the race for a top-four finish as they were held to a goalless draw by West Ham despite dominating at White Hart Lane.

Hammers manager Avram Grant was pleased to have taken a point which moved his team out of the bottom three.

"Tottenham are a really good team, especially at home, so I think it was a good result for us," the Israeli said.

Wolves boosted their hopes of beating the drop as they ran out 1-0 winners against Aston Villa courtesy of Matt Jarvis' well-taken volley after 38 minutes.

Wigan also claimed a priceless win in their relegation battle by beating Birmingham 2-1 at the DW Stadium.

Liam Ridgewell gave Blues the lead but Tom Cleverley equalised for the Latics after 25 minutes and Maynor Figueroa crashed home the winner from long range in stoppage time.

Blackpool's hopes of staying up took a hit, though, as they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Blackburn.

Charlie Adam's two goals - the first from the penalty spot - looked to have put Ian Holloway's men in control but goals from Christopher Samba and Junior Hoilett secured a point for Rovers.

Stoke were emphatic 4-0 winners against Newcastle at the Britannia Stadium - Jonathan Walters, Jermaine Pennant, Danny Higginbotham and Ricardo Fuller the men on target.

In Saturday's late kick-off, Everton won 2-1 against Fulham with goals from Seamus Coleman and Louis Saha. Clint Dempsey replied for the visitors before Saha was carried off on a stretcher with a leg injury in the closing stages.