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30 Dec 2007 08:41
Arsenal reclaimed first place in the Premier League as Arsene Wenger’s side routed Everton 4-1 to take advantage of Manchester United’s surprise 2-1 defeat at West Ham on Saturday.
The Gunners moved two points clear of United thanks to Eduardo’s double strike and late goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Tomas Rosicky in a feisty clash that saw both sides finish with 10 men at Goodison Park.
Tim Cahill had given Everton the lead with a close-range effort in the 19th minute, but Arsenal turned on the style after half-time.
Eduardo equalised in the 47th minute and the Croatian added a second 11 minutes later with a fine finish.
Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner was sent off for a second booking after a nasty two-footed lunge on Andrew Johnson. But Adebayor put the result beyond doubt when he punished Joseph Yobo’s mistake in the 78th minute.
Everton’s Mikel Arteta saw red for an elbow on Cesc Fabregas with six minutes to go before Rosicky struck with a low drive in stoppage time.
At Upton Park, Cristiano Ronaldo’s 18th goal of the season looked like being enough for champions United when he headed in a 14th-minute cross from Ryan Giggs.
But the Portugal star was made to pay for shooting wide from the penalty spot in the 66th minute following a handball from Jonathan Spector.
Hammers substitute Anton Ferdinand, playing against his brother Rio, drew the home side level in the 77th minute with a header and, with eight minutes to go, West Ham were ahead when Matthew Upson headed in Mark Noble’s free-kick.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said West Ham deserved their win: “I have no complaints.
We were beaten by the better team.
Dimitar Berbatov scored four goals, including his first hat-trick for Tottenham, as they beat Reading 6-4 in an extraordinary match at White Hart Lane.
It was the second time this season that Reading had lost after scoring four away from home following their 7-4 defeat at Portsmouth.
Chelsea heaped more pressure on Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge that meant the visitors had taken just one point from a possible nine. But Salomon Kalou’s decisive goal three minutes from time appeared offside.
Sunderland moved out of the bottom three with a 3-1 win at home to Bolton while Middlesbrough won 1-0 away to Portsmouth as the home side went goalless in the league at Fratton Park for the sixth match in a row.
Aston Villa came from behind to beat Wigan 2-1 and Fulham, who finished with 10 men, missed out on their final chance to win away in the league this year after a 1-1 draw with Birmingham.
Spurs took the lead against Reading, when Berbatov turned in Robbie Keane’s seventh-minute cross, only for their defence to let them down once again as the Royals levelled minutes later through Kalifa Cisse.
Reading went ahead when Nicky Shorey’s 53rd-minute corner was headed in by Ivar Ingimarsson.
But Spurs manager Juande Ramos then saw his decision to bring on substitute Jermain Defoe vindicated when his cross set up Bulgarian international Berbatov’s second goal just after the hour.
Dave Kitson regained the lead for Reading before Berbatov completed his treble in the 73rd minute. Kitson then scored again, from 12 yards.
Spurs’ Steed Malbranque made it 4-4 before Defoe capped a sequence of five goals in 10 minutes when he followed up after Marcus Hahnemann saved Keane’s penalty-kick. Berbatov then scored the winner seven minutes from time.
Sunderland went ahead in the 13th minute against Bolton when midfielder Kieran Richardson, played in by Kenwyne Jones, shot home from 12 yards.
And then Jones himself made it 2-0 when he headed in from a near-post corner in the 32nd minute.
Bolton pulled a goal back five minutes before half-time when El-Hadji Diouf’s 30-yard free-kick evaded everyone in the box.
Daryl Murphy settled home nerves in the last minute to give Roy Keane’s men only their fourth league win this season.
Michael Essien scored his first goal in two months as Chelsea went ahead just short of the half-hour mark at home to Newcastle.
But former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt made it 1-1 in the 56th, only for Kalou to keep the Blues in the title hunt.
“Unfortunately for us, the game’s been taken away by somebody we can’t control,” said Allardyce. “It was a clear offside by two or three yards. You don’t know why the assistant referee couldn’t have put his flag up.”
Wigan, fresh from a win over Newcastle, went ahead at the JJB Stadium when a 28th-minute corner from Ryan Taylor was headed in by Titus Bramble.
But Villa, fresh from a 4-4 draw with Chelsea, were level in the 55th minute through a Curtis Davies header and with 20 minutes left the visitors were ahead after striker Gabriel Agbonlahor headed in an Ashley Young cross.
Fulham, with new manager Roy Hodgson waiting in the wings, took an eighth minute lead against Birmingham when Carlos Bocanegra, the United States international defender, headed in a corner from Wales’ Simon Davies.
But Fulham were pegged back 10 minutes after half-time when Birmingham’s Sebastian Larsson scored from 20 yards out.
The Cottagers then held on for a draw after Hameur Bouazza was sent-off 11 minutes from time.
Middlesbrough scored the only goal of their game in the 20th minute when Pompey old boy Gary O’Neil, in his first match back at Fratton Park since his transfer, had a cross-shot parried by keeper David James and Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli turned in the loose ball from close range.
Sunday sees Manchester City host Liverpool, while Derby are at home to Blackburn Rovers.—Sapa-AFP
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