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Saturday, February 21, 1998 Published at 17:29 GMT

Sport: Football

No second best for Old Trafford men

Manchester United have opened up a nine-point gap at the top of the English Premiership by beating Derby County 2-0 - but the victory came at a price.

Ryan Giggs limped off 13 minutes from time with a hamstring injury which has ruled him out of his side's European Cup game against Monaco,

Ian Brown reports (0'52")
Before the match Alex Ferguson received an award for being the second best manager in the world in 1997 - but their was nothing second best about Manchester United during the game.

The trophy was from the International Federation of Football Historians and Statisticians and it is one of the few times this season that the United boss will have to settle for the runners-up prize.

Alex Ferguson speaks to 5 Live after the game (1'41")
Ryan Giggs scored their first from a great move after 18 minutes and Denis Irwin added their second from the penalty spot on 71 minutes as United finally recorded their first Premiership win over the Rams.

United put their recent indifferent home form, which had seen them lose one and draw two of their last three games, behind them as they rediscovered their fluent passing game in the first half.

Crystal Palace v. Arsenal

[ image:  ]
French defender Gilles Grimandi scored a spectacular winner as an almost unrecognisable Arsenal side finally broke their deadlock with Crystal Palace.

It was Grimandi's first goal for the club and moves the Gunners into second place in the Premiership.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had to field a team lacking at least nine first choices after Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp went down with flu and completed a daunting list of unavailable players.

John Murray reports (0'50")
Wenger, also without England stars Tony Adams, Ian Wright, David Seaman and another Dutch international Marc Overmars - to name but a few - had to give 18-year-old local lad Paolo Vernazza his Premiership debut while another teenager Matthew Upson made only his second league start.

But Palace, who held the Gunners to a goalless draw in the FA Cup last Saturday, a repeat of the scoreline at Selhurst Park earlier in the season, were fairly comfortably seen off by a highly committed, enterprising performance from their makeshift hosts.

Leicester City v. Chelsea

Simon Brotherton reports (0'52")
Leicester striker Emile Heskey ended his four-month goal drought with two goals to deal a huge blow to Chelsea's Premiership title hopes.

The England B player hit the target for the first time in 14 matches to keep the Foxes on course for a UEFA Cup place as they extended their unbeaten run to seven matches.

Heskey set Martin O'Neill's side on the way after just two minutes - and then finally killed off a desperately disappointing Chelsea two minutes from time.

Chelsea were devoid for long periods of the inspiration which had helped them sweep aside Arsenal to reach the Coca-Cola Cup final in Gianluca Vialli's first match in charge.

Southampton v. Blackburn Rovers

Peter Drury reports (0'49")
Southampton claimed the scalp of another of the Premiership title contenders as Matt Le Tissier returned to inspire them to a 3-0 victory over Blackburn.

The Saints have transformed The Dell into a graveyard for title ambitions, beating both Chelsea and Manchester United here in recent weeks, while also defeating Liverpool at Anfield last weekend.

Despite a midweek defeat at the hands of Coventry, they again raised their game for the visit of one of the League's leading clubs to further move away from the relegation zone and into mid-table safety, and they did it in front of the England coach Glenn Hoddle.

Le Tissier had been relegated to the substitutes bench for the last two games but was reinstated to the starting 11 in the continued absence of leading scorer Kevin Davies after an impressive show when he came on against Coventry in midweek.

Egil Ostenstad bagged two goals (19 and 88) on either side of David Hirst's score (75).

Bolton v. West Ham

Stuart Hall reports (1'11")
Bolton and West Ham shared the spoils in a tale of two Welshmen at the Reebok Stadium.

[ image:  ]
Wanderers striker and Wales international Nathan Blake notched a last-gasp equaliser through Trevor Sinclair's 65th-minute opener with just four minutes remaining.

But the Hammers had already seen their own Welsh frontman John Hartson dismissed for a 56th-minute strike on Bolton's Danish midfielder Per Frandsen.

The 19-goal striker had appeared to be the East Londoners' greatest threat to Bolton. But Harry Redknapp's team had to console themselves with a draw and Wanderers fans were again disappointed after their side failed to gain three points for the 10th Premiership game in succession.

Coventry v. Barnsley

Ron Jones reports (0'49")
Coventry skipper Dion Dublin produced a defensive master class before scoring the last-gasp goal that gave the Sky Blues a club record equalling sixth successive victory.

Dublin, who just 11 days ago had earned his first England cap as a striker, led by example from the back for the first 67 minutes before finally being thrust up front by City boss Gordon Strachan.

It was a move which paid handsome dividends as Dublin was sent sprawling in the Barnsley penalty area following a free kick from the right by David Burrows.

However, it looked as if Dublin had dived under a challenge from Barnsley's Swedish centre back Peter Markstedt.

But referee Alan Wilkie had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, allowing Dublin to dust himself down and send keeper David Watson the wrong way from the spot for his 17th goal of the season.

Sheffield Wednesday v. Tottenham

Dave Woods reports (0'43")
Paolo Di Canio took full toll of yet more poor defending as Spurs were dumped right back in the danger zone, going down 1-0.

The Italian ace hardly had his most impressive game since coming south from Celtic in the summer, too easily shackled by Sol Campbell.

But when Justin Edinburgh gave a graphic example of why he will be on his way next summer, Di Canio was on the spot to claim his 12th of the season and send suffering Spurs to another deserved defeat.

Wimbledon v. Aston Villa

Charlotte Nicol reports (0'49")
The blossoming partnership between Jason Euell and Carl Leaburn plunged Villa deeper into the relegation mire at Selhurst Park.

First-half strikes from the bargain duo set the Dons on their way to a vital Premiership victory in front of just 13,131 fans.

Although the visitors threatened to take a point back up to the Midlands after Savo Milosevic's deflected effort, Wimbledon hung on to leapfrog their opponents in the table.

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