Reds move back to top of Premiership

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The Independent Football

Liverpool returned to the summit of the Barclays Premier League for a few hours at least after strolling to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bolton at the Reebok Stadium in today's early kick-off.

Dirk Kuyt fired Liverpool into a 28th-minute lead with a superb placed header into the top-left corner after jumping unmarked to meet Fabio Aurelio's pinpoint cross.

The Trotters were denied a leveller on the stroke of half-time when centre-back Gary Cahill had a header from a corner disallowed by referee Rob Styles after Kevin Nolan tangled with Reds goalkeeper Jose Reina.

The visitors extended their lead after 73 minutes following good work by substitute Fernando Torres.

The Spain international stole the ball from the toe of Andy O'Brien before sending over a delightful cross with the outside of his right boot that Steven Gerrard met with a lunging header into the corner after stealing a march on Cahill.

Arsenal came down to earth with a resounding crash after slipping to a 2-0 loss against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium.

After Arsene Wenger watched his side beat Manchester United last weekend before a second-string XI brushed aside Wigan in the Carling Cup in midweek, the Gunners' frailties were again there for all to see as Villa struck twice in the second half.

Manuel Almunia had distinguished himself after saving an Ashley Young penalty in the first half which was awarded when the Villa winger was felled by Theo Walcott on the edge of the area.

But the Arsenal keeper was helpless as Gael Clichy steered Young's teasing cross into his own net after 70 minutes before Martin O'Neill's troops made the points safe 10 minutes from time when Gabriel Agbonlahor outstripped the home defence to make it two.

Harry Redknapp's glorious run of results at the Tottenham helm came to end at Craven Cottage as Fulham won 2-1 thanks in part to a glaring error by under-pressure Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Spurs, unbeaten in four in the league, fell behind after 32 minutes when Simon Davies' cross deflected off Jonathan Woodgate before slipping through the grasp of Gomes, who should have gathered with ease.

Andrew Johnson made it 2-0 for Roy Hodgson's troops with 20 minutes left on the clock while Fraizer Campbell's third goal in two games with nine minutes remaining was little more than a consolation for Spurs, who slip back into the relegation zone.

Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace as Manchester United hammered sorry Stoke 5-0 in a one-sided encounter at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring for the hosts after just three minutes, the winger hitting his 100th United goal with a trademark free-kick that evaded Thomas Sorensen despite the ball dipping under the bar in the centre of the goal.

Michael Carrick extended United's lead on the stroke of the interval, the midfielder receiving the ball from Ronaldo on the edge of the area before setting himself and unleashing a fierce left-footed drive into the roof of the Stoke net.

Dimitar Berbatov made it 3-0 after 49 minutes with just his second league goal since joining from Tottenham, while promising youngster Danny Welbeck made it four with six minutes left.

Ronaldo wrapped up the win with a second unerring free-kick in the final minute.

Michael Owen came off the bench to claim his fourth league goal of the season but it could not inspire Newcastle to victory as 10-man Wigan fought back for a 2-2 draw at St James' Park thanks to a late Titus Bramble goal.

Wigan took the lead after just three minutes when Ryan Taylor firing in a sweet volley from 20 yards, but the Latics' task was made harder following Emmerson Boyce's dismissal for a second bookable offence nine minutes after the break.

It stayed 1-0 until 10 minutes from time when Owen slid in to level, and Obafemi Martins looked to have snatched the victory when he lashed home past Chris Kirkland with three minutes remaining.

But the hosts reckoned without former Magpie Bramble, who popped up to rescue a point for Wigan at the death after meeting Daniel de Ridder's corner with a firm header.

Sunderland ensured they avoided a second loss to Blackburn inside four days after coming from behind to win 2-1 at Ewood Park

Blackburn took the lead on the stroke of half-time, Christopher Samba rising to nod home Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner.

The Black Cats fought back after the interval, and Kenwyne Jones made it 1-1 after 49 minutes before Djibril Cisse popped up with his fifth of the campaign to end Sunderland's run of three straight league defeats.

West Ham kept their first clean sheet in 25 matches but that did not prevent the Upton Park boo-boys berating the home side after their goalless draw with Portsmouth.

Jermain Defoe provided most of the attacking threat for the visitors, bringing a string of saves from Robert Green, while Craig Bellamy had the best chance for the hosts in the second period with a free-kick that hit the bar as the Hammers slipped to their seventh league game without a win.