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04 May 2008 21:03
Nicklas Bendtner scored with a late header on Sunday to give Arsenal a 1-0 win over Everton in the Premier League, and Liverpool beat Manchester City by the same score.
Bendtner jumped to head a cross from Armand Traore past Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 77th minute.
Arsenal’s win means it still has a chance to overtake Chelsea for second place and an automatic spot in the group stage of next season’s Champions League.
Arsenal, with 80 points, trails Chelsea by one, but the Blues have two games to go and can still win the league title. Manchester United leads the league with 84 points with one game remaining—at Wigan next Sunday.
Chelsea plays at Newcastle on Monday and then hosts Bolton in the final round next Sunday.
“We can still finish second if Chelsea loses one game and draws another one,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
“But Bolton are safe and having seen West Ham against Manchester United yesterday, I have very little hope Bolton will make a result at Chelsea.”
United and Chelsea also play in the Champions League final on May 21 in Moscow.
Liverpool, which got a 23rd-minute goal from Fernando Torres, has 73 points and has already secured fourth place.
Everton could have guaranteed itself a spot in the UEFA Cup with a draw, but instead stayed with 62 points.
“I am disappointed we didn’t get a point we needed because we did enough to get it,” Everton manager David Moyes said. “Arsenal did not have many chances and we played well defensively.”
Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann went onto the field at the end of the game to say farewell to the fans after playing the second half as a substitute for Lukasz Fabianski. The German, who has lost his starting job to Manuel Almunia, is out of contract at the end of the season.
“It was a farewell and I wanted him to have a chance to say goodbye to the fans, that we respect him for what he has done for us,” Wenger said. “Jens was 38 this year, and at some stage in a club like ours you have to make a decision to change.”
Torres scored his 32nd goal of the season in the 58th minute at Liverpool, dribbling into the box before scoring at an angle.
It could have been much worse for Manchester City if not for a stand out performance from goalkeeper Joe Hart.
He dived to keep out a curling shot from Steven Gerrard shortly before halftime and made two saves in the 61st minute—pushing away a volley from Dirk Kuyt and saving the rebound from an overhead kick from Lucas Leiva.
Kuyt’s header hit the bar a few minutes later, before Ryan Babel missed from six meters.
Many fans held banners in support of Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is expected to be fired after next week’s final game of the season by owner Thaksin Shinawatra.
Ten-man Manchester United beat West Ham 4-1 Saturday with two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and one each from Carlos Tevez and Michael Carrick.
Also on Saturday, it was: Aston Villa 0, Wigan 2; Blackburn 3, Derby 1; Fulham 2, Birmingham 0; Middlesbrough 2, Portsmouth 0; and Reading 0, Tottenham 1; and Bolton 2, Sunderland 0.
Bolton effectively secured its place in next season’s Premier League with its win over Sunderland. That whittles the relegation battle down to three clubs—17th-place Fulham, 18th-place Reading and 19th-place Birmingham.
Derby, which has 11 points with a game remaining, has already been relegated and will finish as the worst-ever Premier League club.
Sunderland finished with 15 points in 2006.
West Bromwich Albion and Stoke were promoted from the League Championship and will play in the Premier League next season.
“This is a proud moment,” West Brom manager Tony Mowbray said.
“There’s a great debate in football about whether it’s all about winning or all about entertaining. There’s got to be a balance and we’ve got that balance right.”
West Brom also played in the Premier League in 2002/03, 2004/05 and 2005/06.
Hull will play Watford and Bristol City will face Crystal Palace in the playoffs for the third and final place in next season’s Premier League.
West Brom won the League Championship title Sunday on the final day of the season with a 2-0 win at Queens Park Rangers and Stoke finished second after a 0-0 draw against Leicester, which was relegated to the third tier of English soccer for the first time in its 124-year history.
It’s the first time Stoke has been in top flight of English soccer in 23 years.
“It’s an absolutely unbelievable achievement and I am so happy for the supporters,” Stoke manager Tony Pulis said.
Scunthorpe and Colchester were also relegated to League One. - Sapa-AP
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