My Soccer World

Football: Liverpool Stay Top As Chelsea Lose Ground

Posted on: December 29, 2008

LONDON : Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored twice as the Merseysiders ended 2008 on top of the Premier League with a 5-1 win away to Newcastle at St James’ Park in Sunday’s early kick-off match.

And their day got better when second-placed Chelsea, were held to a dramatic 2-2 draw by Fulham in the west London derby later on to leave Liverpool with a three-point lead.

Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams’s return to his old club ended in defeat as the Gunners sent his Portsmouth side nearer the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

Everton won 3-0 at home to Sunderland as Ricky Sbragia’s first match since being confirmed as the Black Cats full-time manager in succession to Roy Keane ended in defeat.

West Ham fought back to beat 10-man Stoke, who saw Ricardo Fuller sent-off for a slap on his own captain, Andy Griffin, 2-1.

Meanwhile West Bromwich Albion climbed off the bottom of the table and above Blackburn with a 2-0 win over 10-man Tottenham.

Wigan won 1-0 away to Bolton thanks to Egypt striker Amir Zaki’s penalty a minute before half-time.

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes goes back to Blackburn, the club he left at the end of last season, in Sunday’s late kick-off.

Reigning champions Manchester United, third with three games in hand, face Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on Monday while Aston Villa can regain fourth place from Arsenal away to Hull on Tuesday.

England midfielder Gerrard opened the scoring from close range just after the half-hour mark. Five minutes later Sami Hyypia’s header made it 2-0.

But slack marking by Liverpool saw Newcastle, who before kick-off found out that owner Mike Ashley had reversed his decision to sell the club, pull a goal back on the stroke of half-time when a corner was headed in by David Edgar.

Ryan Babel though made it 3-1 to Liverpool five minutes into the second-half when he forced the ball home from a corner.

Gerrard made sure of the points with a cool finish in the 66th minute before Xabi Alonso added a fifth from the penalty spot after Edgar’s foul on fellow Liverpool substitute David Ngog.

“You haven’t seen the best of Liverpool yet,” said Sammy Lee, their assistant manager.

“You win nothing in December but you can certainly lose a lot.”

Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear added: “We had to play one of the best teams I’ve seen for a long while.”

United States international Clint Dempsey stunned Chelsea when he got on the end of Simon Davies’s 10th minute free-kick at Craven Cottage.

But five minutes into the second-half England midfielder Frank Lampard equalised when he capitalised on a mix-up between Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer and Aaron Hughes.

Lampard put Chelsea ahead when his 72nd minute free-kick deceived Schwarzer only for Dempsey to head in his and Fulham’s second a minute from full-time.

Arsenal, who saw Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch hit the post with a first-half header, had to wait until nine minutes before full-time to break the deadlock when William Gallas seized on an error by England goalkeeper David James.

Mikel Arteta put Everton in front with a 25-yard free-kick in the 10th minute at Goodison Park and the Spanish midfielder doubled the lead 17 minutes later with a deflected shot after another free-kick had been blocked.

Dan Gosling added a third seven minutes from time.

Abdoulaye Faye gave Stoke fans something to cheer as early as the fourth minute when he headed in Danny Pugh’s corner.

But the Hammers were level when Carlton Cole turned Griffin early in the second-half – the incident which appeared to spark Fuller’s confrontation with his captain.

West Ham’s Diego Tristan made it 2-1 when he turned in Cole’s shot two minutes from time.

Tottenham’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto got a straight red card 10 minutes before half-time for a foul on Gianni Zuiverloom. But it wasn’t until the 83rd minute that Roman Bednar scored for the Baggies before Craig Beattie added a second.

– AFP/vm

Channel News Asia

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