United edges Liverpool for EPL lead

Updated: February 11, 2012, 8:54 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LONDON -- Luis Suarez's refusal to shake hands with Patrice Evra overshadowed Manchester United's 2-1 win over rival Liverpool that lifted the defending champions to first place in the Premier League on Saturday.

Wayne Rooney scored twice for the second straight match to guide United to victory at Old Trafford. But all the focus was on the pre-match handshake that never happened, inflaming tensions between England's two most successful clubs.

Starting his first match since serving an eight-game ban for racially abusing Evra during a league match at Anfield on Oct. 15, Suarez withdrew his hand as the France defender put forward his in the traditional ritual before kickoff.

"He is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club," United manager Alex Ferguson. "He shouldn't be able to play for Liverpool again."

Police and stewards reportedly had to intervene as players from both teams clashed outside the locker rooms at halftime after Evra chased Suarez down the tunnel.

Evra then appeared to attempt to provoke Suarez with exuberant post-match celebrations on the field in front of the Uruguay striker, also forcing police officers to intervene.

Amid the mayhem, United managed to take an overnight lead in the standings, tightening the pressure on Manchester City ahead of its trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Third-place Tottenham stayed five points behind United by thrashing Newcastle 5-0 at home, while the fight for fourth place intensified following Chelsea's 2-0 loss at Everton and Arsenal's 2-1 victory at Sunderland.

Thierry Henry scored a stoppage-time winner in his final league game on loan for Arsenal, which climbed above Chelsea on goals scored. The two teams, who are four points ahead of seventh-place Liverpool, have the same goal difference.

"I know it was the last game in the Premier League and I wanted to say thanks," Henry said. "I felt just like a kid who scores his first goal for the team he loves."

Steven Pienaar and Denis Stracqualursi scored Everton's goals as Chelsea extended its winless run to four matches and threatened the club's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. Landon Donovan fed Stracqualursi with a through ball for the second goal, Donovan's fifth assist during his loan from Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy.

U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey played a part in Fulham's second goal in its 2-1 win against Stoke. Dempsey's long shot hit the bar, struck Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and rebounded into the net.

Spain

Subzero temperatures and poor defending cost Barcelona as its hopes for a fourth straight Spanish league title took a big hit with a 3-2 loss at Osasuna that ended an 18-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

Dejan Lekic scored in the fourth and 22nd minutes to build a 2-0 lead against Barcelona, which hasn't won in 50 years when trailing by two goals at halftime.

Alexis Sanchez cut the deficit in the 51st minute, and Raul Garcia made it 3-1 in the 56th. Cristian Tello scored in the 73rd and Sanchez appeared to tie the score in the 82nd, but the goal was disallowed for offsides -- despite television replays indicating he was not.

Barcelona has a league road record of four wins, two losses and five ties this season.

Madrid can stretch its lead over Barcelona to 10 points with a home victory over Levante on Sunday.

Barcelona rested Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas ahead of its second-round Champions League game at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

Italy

Newly signed Maxi Lopez scored his first goal for AC Milan, helping the defending champions rally for a 2-1 win at Udinese to help it regain first place in the Serie A.

Antonio Di Natale gave Udinese a 19th-minute lead with his league-leading 17th goal. Lopez, acquired on loan from Catania last month, tied the score in the 77th and then set up Stephan El Shaarawy's goal in the 85th.

Milan has 47 points, two more than second-place Juventus, which has played two fewer games. Juventus' game at Bologna on Sunday was postponed.

Udinese, which had won 10 of its previous 11 league home matches this season, is in fourth place, six points off the lead.

In the day's other game, Cagliari beat Palermo 2-1.

Germany

Borussia Dortmund edged Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 to extend its unbeaten run to 15 games, and Bayern Munich beat Kaiserslautern 2-0 to keep the pressure on the Bundesliga leader.

Shinji Kagawa scored in the 45th minute in Dortmund for the defending champions, who remain two points ahead of second-place Bayern.

Mario Gomez opened the scoring in Munich with his league-leading 18th goal of the season in the sixth minute, with Thomas Mueller making it 2-0 in the 30th.

Borussia Moenchengladbach stunned Schalke with three first-half goals to win the late game 3-0 and take over from the visitors in third, one point behind Bayern.

Stuttgart beat Hertha Berlin 5-0; Werder Bremen drew 1-1 with Hoffenheim; and Mainz and Hannover also played to a 1-1 draw.

Scotland

Celtic maintained its four-point lead in the Scottish Premier League thanks to a 1-0 win over Inverness. This was Celtic's 17th straight win in domestic competition.

Given the lead by Joe Ledley's 16th-minute goal, Celtic was reduced to 10 men when defender Daniel Majstorovic was shown a straight red card for a foul on Jonny Hayes in the 60th. Inverness also finished the game a man short after Steve Williams' ejection in the 77th minute.

Second-place Rangers remained close to their Glasgow rival, winning 4-1 at last-place Dunfermline on goals by David Healy, Lee McCulloch, Sone Aluko and Salim Kerkar.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.