LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Manchester United moved 18 points clear at the top of the Premier League, for a few hours at least, when they won 1-0 at Sunderland on Saturday thanks to a first-half own goal from Titus Bramble.
United, closing in on their 20th title and their fifth in the last seven seasons, went ahead when Robin van Persie ended a jinking run on the left with a 27th minute shot that took a deflection off Bramble's thigh leaving Black Cats keeper Simon Mignolet stranded.
Despite the narrow winning margin, United were never seriously troubled by the home side who rarely found any penetration to unsettle a defence which has now gone six league matches without conceding.
United have now scored in their last 18 unbeaten league matches and have 77 points from their 30 games, 18 clear of second-placed champions Manchester City who were playing Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium later (1500 GMT).
Sunderland, without a win in their last eight, ended the match in 16th place, four points clear of the drop zone with the four teams below them still to play.
Besides the City v Newcastle match, the three other teams chasing a top-four finish were all in action later with third- placed Chelsea at Southampton, fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur at Swansea City and fifth-placed Arsenal at home to second-from-bottom Reading. (Editing by Mark Meadows)