Football

Manchester United wins to gain ground on other title rivals

Rafael van der Vaart was the catalyst behind the Tottenham Hotspurs revival against arch-rivals Arsenal. File Photo: AP

Rafael van der Vaart was the catalyst behind the Tottenham Hotspurs revival against arch-rivals Arsenal. File Photo: AP  

Chelsea suffered their third defeat in four matches as they were beaten 1-0 at Birmingham City on Saturday, allowing Manchester United to join them at the top of the English Premier League.

Lee Bowyer scored the only goal of the game to give Birmingham all three points, while United saw off Wigan, who ended with nine men, 2-0 to join Chelsea on 28 points, second only on goal difference.

Bolton moved up to fourth after hammering Newcastle United 5-1 at the Reebok Stadium, Liverpool beat bottom side West Ham United 3-0 while Blackpool and Stoke also claimed victories.

Arsenal could have gone top if they had beaten Tottenham Hotspur in the day’s early game but they let slip a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to their north London rivals at the Emirates.

Chelsea, missing Frank Lampard and Michael Essien again, went behind to Bowyer’s early goal, clipping home from Cameron Jerome’s nice cushioned header.

The visitors dominated possession from then on but could not find a way through the Birmingham defence, with England goalkeeper Ben Foster producing a number of outstanding saves.

Chelsea’s defeat followed on from last weekend’s humbling at home by Sunderland and a recent defeat at Liverpool.

“We deserved to win and for that reason we are really disappointed,” Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said.

“We played good football, played well with good spirit and good attitude and made a lot of chances — but it is not enough as sometimes you need to be lucky. The performance was really good but this is football.” United had Wayne Rooney back on the bench, but they struggled for fluency before goals from Patrice Evra and Javier Hernandez secured all three points for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was an angry man after he watched his side lose a 2-0 lead at half-time to go down 3-2 to Tottenham, which produced an inspired second-half display.

Goals from Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh put the home side 2-0 up at half-time. But Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart on a penalty, and Younes Kaboul scored in the second half to give Spurs their first league win at Arsenal since 1993, lifting them to fifth.

“If you look at the stats and the numbers, it is very difficult to understand how we lost this game — a drop in concentration, some basic errors, some back luck as well,” Wenger said.

“You are a bit speechless to re-analyse the game. It is a mystery how you can lose a game like that.” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said his team deserved enormous credit and showed that they were legitimate title candidates.

“I think Tottenham are now getting closer and the championship is wide open,” he said. “I said that to the players yesterday morning: ’Why can’t you win the championship? Who says you can’t?.’ “In the end, it was a great result for us to come here and pick up three points having been two behind again.”

Liverpool, without Steven Gerrard for injury reasons, made short work of West Ham at Anfield with all goals within 20 minutes in the first half. Former Hammers player Glen Johnson chested a corner and fired a low shot for the opener in the 18th, Dirk Kuyt converted a penalty in the 27th and Maxi Rodriguez got the third in the 38th.

Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander both scored twice as Bolton stormed to fourth with a 5-1 drubbing of Newcastle. John Walters scored twice as Stoke moved up to eighth with a 3-0 win at West Brom and Blackpool saw off Wolves 2-1.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 3:08:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/Manchester-United-wins-to-gain-ground-on-other-title-rivals/article15701058.ece

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