Rooney, Henry goals help Arsenal, Man United win

Thierry Henry scored twice and Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 on Sunday, while two goals from Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a 2-0 win over Newcastle in the English Premier League.

Henry punished a rare blunder from Steven Gerrard to score the winner at Highbury, as Arsene Wenger’s team moved up two places to fifth and within two points of fourth-place Tottenham.

Gerrard played a back pass toward goalkeeper Pepe Reina, but Henry intercepted to round the goalkeeper and score with seven minutes to go.

The French striker celebrated his goal by running around the field holding his nose. He said it was nothing disrespectful toward Liverpool, but to mark the fact that he had sniffed out the opportunity.

”I just saw that [Gerrard] unfortunately didn’t notice that I was there waiting and I gambled,” Henry said. ”It worked well at the right time. That’s why when I scored the goal I did that little celebration that I smelled it. No disrespect to Liverpool, but we deserved the win.”

One minute before the goal, Liverpool were reduced to 10 men after the ejection of midfielder Xabi Alonso for two yellow cards.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said referee Steve Bennett was wrong to send the Spanish midfielder off and that he believed the official had not seen the incident.

”It’s a big mistake of the referee,” Benitez said. ”He was not watching the play and then he decided too quickly to show the [second] yellow card. Maybe when he watches the video he will have another idea.”

Henry gave Arsenal a 21st-minute lead when he collected a well-timed through ball by midfielder Cesc Fabregas to curl an angled shot round Reina inside the far post.

Henry rolled the ball wide of an empty net early in the second half, and then shot straight at Reina.

The misses appeared costly when Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was unable to hold a powerful shot from Gerrard and Luis Garcia reacted first to head in.

After Henry had made it 2-1, he almost set up a third goal for Robert Pires with two minutes to go — but his countryman’s shot hit the post.

Meanwhile, Rooney scored twice in the first 12 minutes and Manchester United beat Newcastle to cut Chelsea’s lead to 15 points.

The Red Devils, who have now won four league matches in a row, also missed several chances at Old Trafford.

Chelsea, who beat Tottenham 2-1 on Saturday, have 75 points, while second-place United have 60. Liverpool have 55, Tottenham 49 and Arsenal 47.

It was Newcastle’s first loss since Graeme Souness was fired two months ago. Under temporary manager Glenn Roeder, the Magpies went to Old Trafford — where they have now not won in 35 league visits — having won five games and drawn one.

Ruud van Nistelrooy was left on the bench for the third game in a row, but it didn’t appear to weaken United as they soon went 2-0 ahead.

Rooney intercepted a poor back pass by Newcastle defender Peter Ramage and lobbed stranded goalkeeper Shay Given in the eighth minute.

Four minutes later, Louis Saha and John O’Shea opened Newcastle’s defence with a series of passes, leaving Rooney to fend off Ramage and shoot past Given for the second goal.

”We could have scored more — we should have,” Rooney said. ”We should have taken a lot more of our chances and won by a bigger margin, but I’m happy to get the two goals.”

United manager Alex Ferguson said his team had 29 shots on goal.

”The speed and penetration was fantastic from the forwards and every player played his part,” he said. ”To have 29 shots is amazing. I know we should have scored more goals, but the performance was most important, and it was exhilarating at times.”

Rooney should have completed his hat-trick in the 68th minute when he went through the Newcastle defence and rounded Given — only to hit the post with his shot.

Ruud van Nistelrooy went on for Cristiano Ronaldo with 15 minutes to go and United continued to create chances.

Given punched away a powerful shot from Park Ji-sung and Saha headed over the bar from close range. Then Van Nistelrooy got clear with only Given to beat, but he pulled his shot wide. Rooney then had a goal-bound shot deflected wide by Newcastle defender Celestine Babayaro.

In Sunday’s other game, Darren Bent scored twice as Charlton edged Middlesbrough 2-1 at The Valley.

In Saturday’s games, a last-minute 25-yard goal by defender William Gallas earned Chelsea their 24th victory in 29 games against fourth-place Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

Other results were: Blackburn 2, Aston Villa 0; Birmingham 1, West Brom 1; Bolton 4, West Ham 1; Everton 3, Fulham 1; Portsmouth 2, Manchester City 1; and Sunderland 0, Wigan 1. — Sapa-AP

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