Van der Sar sets record as Man U wins again
Ronaldo contributes 14th goal of season
Cristiano Ronaldo's 14th goal of the season gave Manchester United a 1-0 victory over Everton on Saturday evening, and a five-point lead atop England's Premier League.
For a 12th consecutive league match, United's defence was impenetrable, allowing Edwin van der Sar to set an English soccer goalkeeping record of 1,120 minutes without conceding a goal.
That surpassed the previous record of 1,103 minutes set by Reading's Steve Death in the 1978-79 season.
But the defending champions needed a penalty award just before halftime to claim the three points, piling more pressure on Chelsea and Liverpool, which both have 48 points and meet Sunday.
Mikel Arteta tripped Michael Carrick on the edge of the area to concede the penalty that Ronaldo dispatched past Tim Howard.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson used his match-day magazine column to praise fellow manager David Moyes for not complaining about Everton's injury crisis, which has left the northern club without a recognized striker.
But the visitors' shortage of options up front meant that they posed little danger as the Red Devils march toward a third title in row.
Van der Sar's record-breaking evening never looked as if it was going to be spoiled as the Toffees rarely had decent possession.
Villa and Gunners lose ground
Meanwhile, fourth-place Aston Villa and fifth-place Arsenal lost ground on the leader when they were each held 0-0 at home.
Villa was drawn by Wigan while the Gunners, who tied West Ham, are now 10 points behind and United has a game in hand on Arsene Wenger's team.
Stoke, which started the day next-to-last in the standings, now has 24 points from 24 games and climbed to 16th.
Man City's 11th defeat of the season means that Mark Hughes's erratic, mid-standings team has 28 points from 23.