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Premier League round-up

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25 Apr 2009 14:47:12

Premier League round-up

Liverpool and Chelsea were both away day winners as three points were garnered from tough trips to Hull City and West Ham respectively but Manchesterd United responded when under pressure, while elsewhere Manchester City also recorded a rare win on their travels as they beat Everton and West Brom kept alive their slim survival hopes with a success at home to Sunderland. Fulham's fine season shows no sign of being undone by end of season fatigue as Roy Hodgson's side edged a tight affair with Stoke City, leapfrogging West Ham into seventh, while Aston Villa's bid for UEFA Champions League football suffered another hammer blow as they dropped points at Bolton. Rafa Benitez's Reds endured a nervous finale at ten-man Hull after Geovanni made a two-lead secured by Xabi Alonso and Dirk Kuyt look vulnerable with 18 minutes left on the clock. It was left to Kuyt to extinguish any fears of a surprise comeback when he stabbed home Liverpool's third a minute from time. Chelsea toasted Petr Cech at the end of their capital derby with West Ham as his second half penalty save from Mark Noble proved as valuable as Salomon Kalou's close range effort for Guus Hiddink's side. Robinho scored one and made another as Manchester City had too much for an Everton side that looked leg weary following last weekend's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United, while Erik Nevland's solitary effort proved enough for Fulham at home to Stoke at Craven Cottage. Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia continues to feel the heat in the manager's dugout as the Black Cats slumped at West Brom 3-0 but it was brighter news for another struggler Bolton, at The Reebok, as Gary Megson's side came from behind to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa. Liverpool were far from at their fluid best in the first half at KC Stadium as their midweek epic against Arsenal appeared to have drained some of the life from Benitez's side. There was nothing weary about Alonso's opener on the stroke of half-time though, as the Spaniard scorched a sensational half-volley past Hull keeper Boaz Myhill from 25 yards, after his initial tepid effort from a set-piece had rebounded fortuitously into his path. Hull's hopes of staging a second half fight-back were seemingly extinguished when Caleb Folan was red carded for an inexplicable rush of blood to the head. The Tigers front man pushed over Martin Skrtel chasing a through-ball before swiping a kick at the floored Reds defender, just shy of the hour mark. Phil Brown will have been apoplectic on the touchline and his woes were exacerbated five minutes later when Kuyt connected with a Skrtel miscue from close range as Hull failed to clear a Liverpool short corner. Skrtel was having a busy afternoon as it was the normally dominating centre-half who was too easily beaten down the left flank by Daniel Cousin, whose low cross was finished well by a breaking Geovanni. Any nerves were put to bed though at the death when Kuyt bagged his second on the rebound, after Alvaro Arbeloa's shot proved too hot for Myhill to handle. West Ham will feel somewhat aggrieved they had nothing to show from an entertaining derby with Chelsea, as Kalou's second half effort settled matters after the break. The Ivorian stole in at the back post to convert Frank Lampard's cross in the 55th minute, before placing all his good work in jeopardy when he tugged back a marauding Herita Ilunga in the box with 20 minutes left on the clock. Noble stepped up confidently from 12 yards but saw his spot-kick brilliantly repelled by Cech, who guessed the right way to save his side. While Chelsea dominated much of the afternoon possession-wise, Gianfranco Zola's men arguably had the better of the chances. With Liverpool and Chelsea both picking up three points, the pressure was on champions Manchester United as they entertained Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's late kick-off. Spurs took a shock two-goal lead after taking advantage of slopping United defending, with Darren Bent lashing home before Luka Modric also struck from close range. But a controversial decision by referee Howard Webb to award the Red Devils a second-half penalty allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to pull a goal back, and then Wayne Rooney restored parity with a shot at Heurelho Gomes' near post. Ronaldo's diving header then completed the turnaround before Rooney and former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov rubbed further salt in the visitors' wounds. Aston Villa were shy of form and confidence prior their trip to the North West to face Bolton and in truth, Gary Megson can feel somewhat aggrieved his side was trailing at break courtesy of Ashley Young's first goal since he netted in the corresponding fixture in December. Young, nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award to be presented on Sunday, cut inside from the left and with a trademark right-footed delivery saw his cross evade both John Carew in the middle and Jussi Jaaskelainen on his line as the ball sneaked into the corner of the Finn's goal. Bolton won what could prove to be a crucial point come the end of the season when Tamir Cohen, on his full debut, smashed home a searing strike after Villa had failed to clear a corner on the hour mark. Erik Nevland popped up with another important goal at Craven Cottage as his opener on the half-hour mark secured Fulham a win against Stoke in West London. The Norwegian, who had only been on the field a matter of minutes for the injured Bobby Zamora, started a counter-attack that has become Fulham's trademark this term as he made inroads down the right flank. After exchanging passes with Andy Johnson, who also went off injured before half-time, Nevland produced a composed finish to beat Thomas Sorensen from close range. The West Brom faithful have had precious little to sing about this season but Jonas Olsson's goal five minutes before the break had a familiar 'boing-boing' chant reverberating around the Hawthorns at the expense of a beleaguered Sunderland. Olsson showed no little technique at the far post when the ball dropped to him as Sunderland failed to clear a corner, as he swept a low effort past Marton Fulop on the stretch. A maximum haul that moves West Brom to within six points of fourth from bottom Blackburn was secured after the break when Chris Brunt surged into Sunderland's box to convert Marc-Antoine Fortune's low cross. Gloss was put on a polished display at the death when Baggies substitute Juan Carlos Menseguez scored the game's best goal with a well taken third two minutes from time. Robinho has been castigated for his away performances since joining Manchester City in the summer transfer window, but there was nothing lethargic about his opening goal at Goodison Park. A long lofted pass from Elano bypassed a static Everton backline and after taking the ball in his path, an angled low drive was slotted between Tim Howard's legs. Robino's opener came ten minutes before the break and ten minutes after it he turned from goalscorer to architect, as he composed City's second with a clever pass into Stephen Ireland. Again catching Everton's backline dozing, the Irishman had time enough to take the ball down and beat Howard, who will be less than enthused about his efforts in goal. Toffees substitute Dan Gosling scored a late consolation with a fine strike from Steven Pienaar's drilled cross but it was too little-too late for David Moyes' side.


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