Football: Nasri’s Double Stuns United, While Liverpool Go Top Of EPL
Posted November 9, 2008on:
LONDON : Arsenal roared back into the Premier League title race as Samir Nasri’s double clinched a 2-1 win over Manchester United, while Liverpool went top of the table with a 3-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
French winger Nasri struck in each half at the Emirates Stadium to lift the Gunners above United into third place and within six points of leaders Liverpool.
Brazilian teenager Rafael Da Silva pulled one back with his first goal for United in the last minute, but the champions’ first defeat against Arsenal in four meetings left Sir Alex Ferguson’s team eight points off the top of the table.
After losing at Liverpool and drawing at Chelsea already this season, United once again failed to beat one of their major title rivals.
Nasri opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when his shot from the edge of the penalty area deflected off Gary Neville and past United keeper Edwin van der Sar.
Despite the absence of first-choice forwards Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie, Arsenal created a host of chances in an enthralling game and Nasri increased their lead in the 48th minute with a fine finish from Cesc Fabregas’s pass.
Rafael’s superb long-range volley in the 90th minute was too little, too late for United.
“I knew it was a big game for the future of the team,” Wenger said. “To keep in the race, you need to win big games like that and it is vital for a young team.”
Ferguson added: “The number of chances we had was incredible. It was playground football. They attacked, we attacked but they got the goal that mattered.”
At Anfield, Robbie Keane’s first double for Liverpool put the Reds three points clear of second-placed Chelsea, although Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team would replace them at the summit with a win at Blackburn on Sunday.
Rafa Benitez’s side went ahead against Albion in the 34th minute when Steven Gerrard’s astute pass picked out Keane and the Irish forward cleverly lifted his shot over Scott Carson.
Keane put Liverpool in total command in the 43rd minute when he slotted into the empty net after Carson rashly charged off his line.
Fernando Torres returned from a hamstring injury as a second-half substitute before Alvaro Arbeloa curled in the third goal in stoppage time.
Jermain Defoe’s 90th-minute penalty snatched a 2-1 win at Sunderland to give Tony Adams his first success as Portsmouth manager.
French striker Djibril Cisse gave Roy Keane’s side the perfect start in the fourth minute. But Portsmouth emerged revitalised after half-time and Algeria defender Nadir Belhadj, on loan from Lens, got his first goal for the club with a superb long-range effort in the 51st minute.
England forward Defoe completed the comeback when he stroked home a spotkick after El Hadji Diouf fouled Glen Johnson.
Louis Saha sparked a sensational fightback from Everton as the France striker set up a remarkable 3-1 win at West Ham.
Jack Collison, 20, had put Gianfranco Zola’s team ahead in the 63rd minute when Craig Bellamy’s pass picked out the Wales midfielder, who curled a fine finish past Tim Howard for his first Hammers goal.
But Joleon Lescott punished poor defending from the hosts to turn in Saha’s cross seven minutes from full-time.
That set the stage for a dramatic finale as Saha’s deflected shot two minutes later put Everton ahead. Saha then netted Everton’s third goal in the 87th minute to seal a fourth away win for David Moyes’ side.
Bolton climbed out of the relegation zone as Matt Taylor’s second-half strike earned a 1-0 win at Hull.
After Hull had dominated the first half, Taylor gave Bolton the lead in the 50th minute with a dipping volley that crept past Boaz Myhill.
Stoke showed their battling qualities again as Tony Pulis’s side ground out a 0-0 draw at Wigan in a dour game enlivened only by a row between City players Amdy Faye and Ryan Shawcross.
On Sunday, Manchester City host Tottenham, while Newcastle travel to Fulham, Aston Villa face Middlesbrough and Chelsea play at Blackburn.
– AFP /ls
Channel News Asia