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Chelsea, City, United keep Christmas gifts to themselves

Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United showed their rivals no seasonal cheer on Friday as they pulled away from the pack in the Premier League with one-sided Boxing Day victories.

Leaders Chelsea set the tone by overcoming West Ham United 2-0. City following suit with a 3-1 success at West Bromwich Albion and United kept pace by beating Newcastle United 3-1, with Wayne Rooney scoring twice and making one.

Chelsea continue to lead City by three points, with United seven points further back, while West Ham’s loss allowed Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City and Liverpool to make ground in the race for the top four.

Goals in each half from John Terry and Diego Costa — his 13th of the campaign — earned Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea a one-sided home win over West Ham, who slipped to fifth.

West Ham were expected to provide a stern test after a run of five games without defeat, but despite Morgan substitute Amalfitano hitting the post late on, Sam Allardyce’s team were well beaten in what was the London rivals’ 100th encounter.

DIFFICULT OPPONENT

Chelsea's Diego Costa (left) celebrates with Willian after scoring their second goal during an English Premier League match against West Ham United at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s Diego Costa (left) celebrates with Willian after scoring their second goal during an English Premier League match against West Ham United at Stamford Bridge.

“We played a very good game against a very difficult opponent. When we scored, we had the game always under control,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “I am really happy. We are doing very well.”

City were again without injured strikers Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko at a snow-splattered Hawthorns, but they made short work of West Brom regardless to register a ninth consecutive victory.

Fernando punished an error by goalkeeper Ben Foster to put City ahead in the eighth minute, with a Yaya Toure penalty and a David Silva goal extending the visitors’ lead before Brown Ideye scored a late consolation.

Manchester United returned to winning ways following last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa by sinking Newcastle at Old Trafford.

Rooney broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute, tapping in after a sliding Radamel Falco steered Juan Mata’s pass across goal, and added a second goal 13 minutes later with an assured finish from Mata’s pass.

LATE PENALTY

The United captain, who played in midfield again, teed up Robin van Persie to head home the hosts’ third goal eight minutes into the second half, before Papiss Cisse replied with an excellent late penalty.

Southampton moved into the top four, three points below United, by winning 3-1 at Crystal Palace, who slipped into the relegation zone.

Sadio Mane rounded Allan McGregor to put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute, with quick-fire goals by defenders Ryan Bertrand and Toby Alderweireld making the game safe before Scott Dann scored late on.

Tottenham also exploited West Ham’s defeat by winning 2-1 at bottom club Leicester City. Swansea climbed as well, moving to within four points of the Champions League places by beating Aston Villa 1-0 thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s curling 13th-minute free-kick.

Liverpool ended a run of three games without victory by winning 1-0 at Burnley through Raheem Sterling’s first league goal for September.

EPL Results:

Chelsea 2 West Ham 0

West Brom 1 Man City 3

Sunderland 1 Hull City 3

Everton 0 Stoke City 1

Leicester City 1 Tottenham 2

Burnley 0 Liverpool 1

Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 3

Swansea 1 Aston Villa 0

Manchester 3 United Newcastle 1