Football: Liverpool Top Premier League As Last-Gasp Vidic Keeps United In Touch
Posted December 7, 2008on:
LONDON : Liverpool remained on top of the English Premier League after winning 3-1 away to struggling Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Victory saw Liverpool stay a point ahead of Chelsea after the Londoners beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0.
Chelsea’s win saw them surpass Tottenham Hotspur’s English record of 10 successive top-flight away victories set in 1960 while Arsenal remained in the top four with a 1-0 win at home to Wigan.
Reigning champions Manchester United remained six points behind Liverpool in third place although it needed Nemanja Vidic’s stoppage-time goal to secure a 1-0 win over managerless Sunderland in Saturday’s late kick-off at Old Trafford.
Elsewhere, Newcastle, on course for victory after Michael Owen scored twice, were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Stoke while Hull came from behind to beat Middlesbrough 2-1.
Earlier, Fulham and Manchester City shared the points in a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was pleased by his side’s return to winning ways after their goalless draw on Monday against lowly West Ham.
“Clearly it was an important three points for us,” the Spaniard said. “We are in a very good position and we want to stay there.”
Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins, a former Blues captain, praised his team’s attitude as well as their skill.
“It was a fantastic performance,” said the ex-England midfielder.
“I thought the spirit and commitment the guys showed was absolutely first-class, coupled with some extremely good passing of the ball as well.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was glad to see his side eke out a narrow victory.
“I must praise the team because we had great focus and great discipline for 90 minutes. I am happy we can win 1-0.”
Spain international Xabi Alonso broke the deadlock at Ewood Park in the 69th minute when he sidefooted in Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s cross.
Then, 10 minutes later, Yossi Benayoun went past Stephen Warnock before shooting beyond Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal.
Roque Santa Cruz pulled a goal back for Rovers four minutes from time when he headed in after Andre Ooijer had flicked on Keith Andrews’s cross but then Gerrard wrapped up victory with a last-minute goal to wrap up the three points.
The defeat increased the pressure on Blackburn boss Paul Ince, the former Liverpool midfielder, with Rovers still rooted in the relegation zone after a fifth successive defeat.
Former Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka gave Chelsea a ninth-minute lead when his header from Jose Bosingwa’s cross hit the post before crossing the line at the Reebok Stadium.
The Blues then doubled their lead in spectacular fashion through Portugal midfielder Deco’s acrobatic ‘bicycle-kick’ in the 21st minute.
Sunderland, in their first match since former United midfielder Roy Keane quit as manager in midweek, appeared to content to settle for a draw.
But Serbian central defender Vidic ended the stalemate when, after Michael Carrick’s strike hit the post, he followed up to shoot into the unguarded net.
Emmanuel Adebayor put Arsenal ahead at the Emirates against Wigan when he latched onto Cesc Fabregas’s deflected pass in the 16th minute and shot low into the corner.
All the goals at Hull’s KC Stadium came in a frantic final 11 minutes.
Boro went ahead through Turkey international Tuncay Sanli only for Hull to equalise three minutes later when Bernard Mendy’s shot went under the arm of Ross Turnbull, came back off the woodwork and went in off the keeper for an own-goal.
Hull, fifth in the table, then went ahead through Marlon King’s 85th minute penalty, with Boro’s David Wheater sent-off for the foul on Geovanni that led to the spot-kick.
At St James’ Park, Owen gave Newcastle the lead when he turned in an eighth-minute cross from Jonas Gutierrez. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid forward then made it 2-0 in the 24th minute after good work by Obafemi Martins.
Stoke though pulled a goal back on the hour mark when Mamady Sidibe scored from close range after getting on the end of Ricardo Fuller’s cross.
And they were level in the last minute when Abdoulaye Faye scored against his former club, although the draw still left promoted Stoke searching for their first away win in the league this season.
Aston Villa will have a chance to go fifth when they face Everton on Sunday while Portsmouth will look to recover from the disappointment of their UEFA Cup exit away to bottom-of-the-table West Brom.
Tottenham travel to London rivals West Ham on Monday, a match that sees Spurs’ former Hammers boss Harry Redknapp returning to Upton Park.
– AFP /ls
Channel News Asia