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Everton defeat dents United's title hopes

Everton's Dan Gosling celebrates his goal against Manchester United.
Everton's Dan Gosling celebrates his goal against Manchester United.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Second half goals from Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell seal 3-1 win for Everton
  • Diniyar Bilyaletdinov equalized after Dimitar Berbatov's opener for United
  • Chelsea extend lead to four points with 2-0 win over Wolverhampton
  • Third-placed Arsenal win 2-0 to close gap behind United to two points

(CNN) -- Everton dealt a blow to Manchester United's English Premier League title defense with second-half goals from Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell sealing a 3-1 win.

United's defeat in Saturday's early match allowed Chelsea to extend their lead at the top of the table to four points as Didier Drogba scored both goals in a 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Third-placed Arsenal closed the gap on United to two points with Nicklas Bendtner and Cesc Fabregas on target in their 2-0 win over Sunderland.

United started brightly at Goodison Park with Dimitar Berbatov neatly turning in Antonio Valencia's low cross after 16 minutes.

But Everton struck back almost immediately as Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov beat United keeper Edwin Van der Sar with a low drive from outside the penalty area.

The game swung decisively in Everton's favor when 20-year-old Gosling managed to turn home Steven Pienaar's cross from close range.

Former Everton star Wayne Rooney came close to an equalizer with two minutes to go with a free-kick effort but substitute Rodwell added some gloss to the home side's performance when he broke unchallenged through midfield before sliding the ball beyond Van der Sar.

"We were well beaten, simple as that," said United manager Alex Ferguson. "We started the game well enough, but their goal galvanized them and gave them the incentive.

"This is a bad result, and at this time of the year we can't afford results like that. We hope others drop points, and that's the way it's been going this season. Hopefully it turns out right again."

Chelsea capitalized on United's slip as Drogba took his tally to 25 goals in all competitions this season, leaving Wolverhampton a point above the relegation zone.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech pulled off a superb save from Kevin Foley to stop Wolves taking a shock lead, and Yury Zhirkov combined well with Michael Ballack to set up Drogba's first goal five minutes before halftime.

Drogba settled it in the 67th minute as he collected Cech's long clearance, outmuscling defending Christophe Berra, to give Chelsea a morale-boosting win ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with former boss Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan.

Arsenal bounced back from the midweek 2-1 Champions League defeat by Porto with a home win over struggling Sunderland, whose last three points came against the Londoners in November.

Danish striker Bendtner, who had an early effort deflected onto the crossbar, scored from close range in the 27th minute after being set up by Emmanuel Eboue for his first goal in more than three months following injury problems.

Captain Fabregas settled the match in time added on with a penalty after he was fouled by Frazier Campbell, leaving the visitors to rue two missed chances as strikers Kenwyne Jones and Darren Bent failed to beat recalled goalkeeper Manuel Almunia in one-on-one situations.

West Ham moved four points clear of the bottom after a 3-0 win at home to Hull City, who were left level on points with Wolves after Craig Fagan was sent off in a decisive moment.

Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami opened the scoring in the third minute with his first goal for West Ham, then England striker Carlton Cole netted his ninth of the season in the second half soon after Fagan collected a second booking.

Frenchman Julian Faubert sealed victory deep into stoppage time.

Bottom club Portsmouth suffered another blow as Stoke snatched a 2-1 away victory despite being reduced to 10 men.

The cash-strapped hosts' request to be allowed to sell players outside the transfer window to settle their debts was rejected by the Premier League before the match, but on-loan striker Frederic Piquionne put Pompey ahead after 35 minutes.

German defender Robert Huth headed an equalizer five minutes after the halftime break, then Stoke had Andy Wilkinson sent off for a second yellow card on 73, but substitute Salif Diao earned a last-gasp victory with his first goal since 2002.