United maintain surge in form as Rangers and Palace woes deepen

 
Frank Dalleres
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MANCHESTER United survived a scare to overcome Stoke City and maintain their place in the Premier League’s top four on a largely difficult night for London clubs.

Goals from midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata earned United a 2-1 win – their fourth victory in succession – despite Steven Nzonzi briefly equalising.

They had to hang on in the closing stages, however, as goalkeeper David de Gea and then emergency full-back Ashley Young thwarted former United striker Mame Biram Diouf.

The result kept Louis van Gaal’s charges a point in front of West Ham, the only of the capital’s sides to claim victory last night.

QPR’s miserable away form continued as they failed to pick up their first points on the road in a 2-0 defeat at Swansea.

Rangers held out until 12 minutes from time when midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung’s strike put the home side ahead. Former Hoops winger Wayne Routledge made the points safe and nudged QPR down to 19th with a long-range effort as Swansea climbed to sixth.

Crystal Palace’s relegation worries also deepened as a toothless display condemned them to a 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

Belgium striker Christian Benteke’s solo goal – his first since March following an achilles injury – earned Villa their first win in 10 attempts.

Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse struck just after half-time to draw 1-1 at Burnley. The goal denied the Clarets, who led through George Boyd, a third win in four games.