United reassert authority, stretch lead to seven

March 5th, 2009 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS  

ChelseaLondon, March 5 (DPA) Manchester United came from behind to beat Newcastle United 2-1 and open up a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, with a game in hand.
“It’s down to trusting your players and having the ability to win matches, and we had to do that against Newcastle,” United manager ALex Ferguson told MUTV after the win Wednesday.

“Being 1-0 down away from home isn’t easy, but we came back to win thanks to a very gritty performance.”

Chelsea and Liverpool had closed to within four points Tuesday, and when Peter Lovenkrands gave Newcastle a surprise lead after nine minutes, it seemed that the title race might have some life left.

But Wayne Rooney levelled 11 minutes later, turning sharply in the box and slamming a shot past Steve Harper with the aid of a slight deflection.

Dimitar Berbatov got the winner after 56 minutes, finishing off after Park Ji-Sung had seized on a weak backpass from Steven Taylor.

Aston Villa’s hopes of Champions League qualification suffered a blow as they were beaten 2-0 at Manchester City.

Elano put City ahead midway through the first half, converting from the spot after Shaun Wright-Phillips had been tripped by James Milner.

Wright-Phillips made the win safe in the 89th minute. Villa, who have not won in their last six in all competitions, lead Arsenal by just three points in the race for fourth.

Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Middlesbrough 4-0 to ease their relegation fears.

“It’s another good performance,” said Spurs manager Harry Redknapp. “We’ve been in good form. It’s still very tight, but it pushes us up a bit. There’s about 12 teams in it, still.”

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate was left fuming by his side’s display.

“We have to apologize to the fans,” he said. “We were poor defensively. It was open game, which we didn’t want because Tottenham have got better footballers than we have.”

Robbie Keane and Luka Modric were both superb as Spurs swept aside opponents whose attacking brightness could not compensate for their defensive inadequacies.

Keane tapped in his first since his return to the club from Liverpool, capitalizing on Michael Dawson’s flick in the ninth minute.

Roman Pavlyuchenko got the second five minutes later, but the credit must go to Modric, who embarrassed Robert Huth with a brilliant dummy before squaring for the Russian forward.

Aaron Lennon added the third from Keane’s pass five minutes before the interval.

Keane laid on the fourth for Lennon as well, deftly chipped in with 10 minutes left.

Middlesbrough, despite Saturday’s win over Liverpool, lie second-bottom, two points from safety.

Stoke City climbed out of the bottom three with a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, with James Beattie and Ricardo Fuller getting the goals.

Blackburn Rovers slipped back into the bottom three with a goalless draw against Everton, while Hull City did their survival hopes a world of good as Manucho headed an injury-time winner in a 1-0 win at Fulham.

West Ham United won 1-0 at Wigan Athletic, but their night was overshadowed by what appeared to be a serious injury to midfielder Jack Collison.

Carlton Cole put West Ham ahead after 34 minutes but was sent off for a second bookable offence three minutes later.

Lee Cattermole was sent off for a bad foul on Scott Parker 12 minutes into the second half to make it 10 against 10.

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