LONDON, (Reuters) – A Bulgarian, an Argentine and a Dutchman lit up the start of England’s traditional festive fixture bonanza as unbeaten Manchester United tightened their grip at the top of the Premier League on Sunday.
Dimitar Berbatov struck both goals for United in a 2-0 victory over Sunderland as Alex Ferguson’s team emerged from a two-week layoff caused by the icy winter weather that has played havoc with the sporting calendar.
United lead the table with 37 points from 17 games, with Manchester City up into second spot with 35 from 19 after Argentina striker Carlos Tevez netted twice in their 3-1 victory at Newcastle United.
Third-placed Arsenal can move back ahead of City when they host champions Chelsea, in fourth, on Monday.
Tottenham Hotspur stayed in touch with the leading quartet after Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart scored both goals in a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa.
Spurs, who played for more than an hour with 10 men after Jermain Defoe was sent off, have 30 points from 18 games.
Bolton Wanderers are sixth on 29 points after beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0. Stoke City overcame Blackburn Rovers 2-0 while Carlton Cole struck twice to help West Ham United off the bottom with a 3-1 victory at Fulham.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are now propping up the table after losing 2-1 at home to Wigan Athletic.
Bulgarian Berbatov returned to United’s starting line-up after being left out against Arsenal two weeks ago and took just five minutes to make his mark, heading in a cross from Wayne Rooney at the end of a flowing move.