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England round-up: United maintain title challenge

Manchester United FC consolidated second place in the Premiership by defeating Leeds United AFC 2-1.

Silvestre strike
However, they needed a 79th-minute goal from full-back Mikaël Silvestre to deny Leeds, who had threatened to take an unlikely point thanks to Mark Viduka's second-half header.

Level terms
United were gifted an early lead when Lucas Radebe deflected Nicky Butt's header into his own net on 20 minutes. But Sir Alex Ferguson's team failed to hit the heights and were caught out by Viduka's effort from an Ian Harte free-kick on 63 minutes.

Three points
It was a similar combination that brought the winning goal, as Silvestre got the decisive touch to a David Beckham set-piece in the closing stages. The win moved United, beaten by Liverpool FC in the League Cup final on Sunday, three points clear of Newcastle United FC.

Derby defeat
The Saint James' Park club lost 1-0 against north-east rivals Middlesbrough FC in the evening's other rearranged fixture. Cameroonian international Geremi was the match-winner at the Riverside Stadium, the Boro midfield player nodding in a Franck Queudrue centre just after the hour.

Third place
Despite chances for both sides in a frantic finish, Newcastle could not avoid sliding to their first league defeat of 2003. They remain eight points behind the leaders, Arsenal FC, in third place.