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Hat-trick for Drogba in Chelsea win

His 14th strike of the season in all competitions also made him the Premier League's top scorer with eight goals.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2006 09:06 IST

Striker Louis Saha restored Manchester United's three-point lead in the Premier League on Saturday, scoring in a 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers after champions Chelsea trounced Watford 4-0.

With United playing later in the evening kick-off, Chelsea had briefly joined them on 28 points after Ivorian striker Didier Drogba fired a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge.

But Saha steered United to 31 points from their 12 Premier League games after the French forward rifled home a fine second-half winner at Ewood Park.

Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa moved up to third place after they beat Everton 1-0 away and two rivals slipped up -- Bolton Wanderers squandering a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Sheffield United and Portsmouth held 1-1 at home by Fulham.

West Ham United, late winners over Arsenal last weekend, lost 1-0 at Middlesbrough, Newcastle United drew 0-0 at Manchester City and Wigan Athletic beat Charlton Athletic 3-2.

United showed no ill-effects from their shock League Cup exit to second division Southend in midweek and deserved their win despite the narrow scoreline.

They dominated the first half, in which England striker Wayne Rooney spurned two gilt-edged chances from close range, and snuffed out a brief Rovers revival after the restart.

Rooney was denied by a point-blank save from American keeper Brad Friedel on 61 minutes but United were in front three minutes later.

Defender John O'Shea, on for injured Gary Neville at the start of the second half, swung a high ball over from the right, Ryan Giggs somehow pulled it back from the dead-ball line and Saha acrobatically smacked the ball past Friedel.

Asked about United's title hopes, manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports: "The results are proving that we've got a chance this year.

"The good thing we've done is to stay up with least we've got a good start this season and that must give us a chance."

Chelsea made a slow start against Watford, but the promoted club were caught out in the 27th minute when Geremi centred from the right. Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko missed the ball but Drogba made no mistake.

Drogba struck his second after a one-two with Shevchenko, who added the third in the 52nd minute off a Drogba pass.

Drogba completed his second hat-trick of the season, after hitting three against Levski Sofia in the Champions League in September, with a close-range finish from another Geremi cross.

His 14th strike of the season in all competitions also made him the Premier League's top scorer with eight goals.

Chelsea Milestone

Chelsea also reached a milestone by becoming only the second club to clock up 50 consecutive unbeaten home league games in the top flight.

The record was set by Liverpool, at 63 games, from 1978-81. Chelsea's last home league defeat was by Arsenal in February 2004.

"It was a good, solid performance," Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"Watford tried to come forward and we had some difficult moments at the back...but at the same time we had the ball, we used it, we created chances and we scored goals."

With his side also beating Villa 4-0 in midweek in the League Cup, Mourinho said: "Our crowd have gone home with eight goals and two victories. I think everybody is happy with the situation."

Striker Chris Sutton headed his first goal for Villa to secure their first away win of the season, moving them on to 21 points in manager O'Neill's impressive return to the game.

Playing down their place in the table, O'Neill said: "I don't think we should pay too much attention to it."

The action continues on Sunday with Reading against Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal hosting Liverpool.

First Published: Nov 12, 2006 09:06 IST