Premier League round-up
Chelsea played party-poopers to perfection at St James' Park as Alan Shearer's Newcastle homecoming ended in defeat courtesy of Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda goals in the second half. Liverpool are back on top of the Premier League - with Manchester United not in action until Sunday - but they left it very late before snatching a narrow success away to Fulham. Newcastle were not the only side embroiled in the relegation dogfight to lose on home soil, as West Brom were no match for Stoke City in a proverbial 'six-pointer' at The Hawthorns. Like West Brom, Middlesbrough are now in a desperate position at the division's basement as Bolton were rampant in claiming a 4-1 victory at The Reebok. Cesc Fabregas showed just why he is so important to Arsenal as his long-awaited return from injury coincided with a pair of assists for Emmanuel Adebayor in a comfortable 2-0 win over Manchester City. West Ham's young guns impressed at Upton Park as Gianfranco Zola's side were too sharp for Sunderland in claiming a 2-0 win, while Hull City's goalless draw with Portsmouth at the KC Stadium will not live long in the memory. In Saturday's early kick-off, Blackburn's bid to beat the drop received a real shot in the arm with a hard-fought and contentious 2-1 victory over Tottenham Losing startNewcastle fans will be pleased enough with the spirit shown by Shearer's side but it is points rather than passion that will ultimately decide their fate. An evenly contested opening period saw Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka squander the game's best chance when he fired into the side netting when through on goal. Chelsea were neat and easy on the eye throughout but Frank Lampard will never score an uglier goal than his 56th minute opener. Fabio Coloccini was guilty of criminal casualness in possession when he was robbed by Nicolas Anelka on the edge of his own box. The Frenchman struck the bar with a deflected effort, after a scramble, and from the resulting rebound Lampard was able to stoop and head home from close range. Guus Hiddink's side made sure of the spoils ten minutes later when Anelka flicked on to Lampard, whose pass on to Malouda was expertly finished by the winger. Michael Owen was denied a goal late on when his deflected shot was adjudged not to have crossed the line, when it clearly had, and that just about summed up Newcastle's day. Yossi Benayoun fired Liverpool back to the summit of the Premier League with an injury-time winner against stubborn Fulham. The Israel international stepped off the bench to lash a powerful effort across Mark Schwarzer and into the back of the net with the seconds ticking down at Craven Cottage. Rafa Benitez's men looked as though they would be forced to settle for a point which would have handed the title initiative back to Manchester United until Benayoun's crucial intervention. The Reds hit the woodwork four times in the first period with Andrea Dossena (twice), Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres all frustrated by the Fulham framework. Cesc's backManchester City's defenders were all at sea as they allowed Arsenal's Adebayor to nod home one of the easiest goals of his career at the Emirates in just the eighth minute. Fabregas dinked in a free-kick from the left and Adebayor was left unattended to steer his header past Shay Given. It was the same two that combined for Arsenal's second as Fabregas' sumptuous clipped pass bamboozled Richard Dunne, before Abebayor nipped in to round Given and roll the ball home. At The Hawthorns it was a familiar tale of defensive woe for West Brom as Stoke took a second minute lead courtesy of two pieces of calamitous defending. Shelton Martis allowed the ball to bounce over his head just inside his own half, allowing Ricardo Fuller to make inroads on goal. His shot from the edge of the box should have been meat and drink for Scott Carson, but the England goalkeeper allowed the ball to sneak past him. James Beattie then showed why he is one of the division's most in-form strikers when he smashed home a killer second from around 12 yards. Bolton striker Kevin Davies brushed off his England snub to remind Fabio Capello just why he is the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League this season, as his 11th goal of the campaign opened the scoring at home to Middlesbrough. Ricardo Gardner's tantalising cross caused panic in Middlesbrough's box, allowing Davies to squeeze the ball past Brad Jones at the far post. Boro refused to lie down and were level on 38 minutes courtesy of Gary O'Neil's composed finish from Tuncay's sublime slide-rule pass. Gareth Southgate's side failed to maintain parity until the break though, as Gary Cahill was given far too much time to smash home as Boro were unable to deal with a routine Bolton set piece. Bolton consolidated their advantage after the break when Matthew Taylor's left-footed free-kick from wide on the right evaded everyone in Boro's box and caught Jones flat footed. Boro batteredBoro's misery was compounded when Bolton broke to perfection from left to right for a fourth goal. Taylor's crossfield pass was to perfection for Gardner, who brought the ball down with a neat first touch before firing home another nail in Middlesbrough's top flight coffin. At Upton Park it was a day to remember for West Ham's 19-year-old debutant Junior Stanislas as he scored the game's opening goal at home to Sunderland. Luis Boa Morte was the architect down the left flank when he intelligently waited for his team-mate to catch up with the counter-attack, before laying into his path for the easiest of finishes. It was another Hammers youngster that made the game safe as James Tomkins thumped a header beyond Craig Gordon, despite the Scottish goalkeeper getting a hand to the ball. Spurs looked to be cruising when Robbie Keane converted from the penalty spot on the half-hour mark after Blackburn's Gael Givet was harshly judged to have handled an Aaron Lennon cross. It was, though, Harry Redknapp rather than Sam Allardyce smarting at referee Peter Walton on the full-time whistle, as the game hinged on Wilson Palacios' dismissal ten minutes from time. Harry's fumingThe combative midfielder was booked twice in as many minutes for fouls on David Dunn, before Blackburn took full advantage of their numerical advantage. First Benni McCarthy benefitted from makeshift striker Christopher Samba's neat ball into his path to convert from close range, before Andre Ooijer exposed some woeful defending at a corner to prod home from no more than a yard. There was more questionable officiating in Hull City's 0-0 draw with Portsmouth. Glen Johnson must still be wondering what he had done to deserve a second yellow card 11 minutes from time, while Hermann Hreidarsson will feel unfortunate too after striking the post in the final minute.
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