Mascherano off as United win

23 March 2008 05:57
Manchester United are on course to retain their Premier League crown after beating fourth-placed Liverpool 3-0 on Sunday while Arsenal lost 2-1 at Chelsea. United took a first-half lead when Wes Brown headed home before Javier Mascherano was sent off on the stroke of half-time for showing dissent to referee Steve Bennett several times in the opening 45 minutes. Ten-man Liverpool held out until the last ten minutes when further goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani sealed United's comfortable win. Chelsea were forced to come from behind to beat Arsene Wenger's side after Bacary Sagna had given the Gunners the lead. But just when it looked as though Chelsea's remarkable unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge was under threat, Didier Drogba scored twice to keep Avram Grant's side in the title hunt. Meanwhile, north-east rivals Newcastle United and Sunderland eased their relegation worries with crucial victories against Fulham and Aston Villa respectively. Goals from Mark Viduka and Michael Owen helped Newcastle secure a 2-0 victory against the Cottagers - Kevin Keegan's first Premier League win since he returned to St James' Park. Viduka settled the home fans' nerves with a sixth-minute opener and Owen made the points safe with a second goal in the 83rd minute. Sunderland secured the first three-point haul on their travels this season at the 16th attempt with a vital 1-0 win at stuttering Villa. Michael Chopra grabbed the all-important goal with seven minutes remaining as Roy Keane's side moved four points clear of the bottom three. Birmingham remain in trouble after losing 2-1 at Reading, only five days after being held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle at St Andrew's. Andre Bikey scored both the goals for Steve Coppell's improving side while Mauro Zarate grabbed City's sole response. Roque Santa Cruz scored twice as Blackburn beat Wigan Athletic 3-1 in a match that saw both sides finish with ten men. Santa Cruz opened the scoring in the 12th minute before Rovers defender Christopher Samba was dismissed after fouling Emile Heskey in the penalty area. Marlon King equalised from the resulting spot-kick but Santa Cruz set up Jason Roberts to restore Rovers' lead before the Paraguay international made it 3-1 in the 63rd minute. The Latics were also reduced to ten men when Wilson Palacios was sent off for a second bookable offence. Tuncay scored the only goal of the match as Middlesbrough beat rock-bottom Derby County, while Bolton remain in the drop-zone after being held to a goalless draw by Manchester City at the Reebok Stadium. Substitute Darren Bent scored one goal and created the other as Tottenham beat Portsmouth 2-0 at White Hart Lane, while Everton's Champions League claims were rocked when they were held to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park by West Ham. Yakubu's early goal looked to be enough for David Moyes' side to clinch all three points, but the Hammers hit back to share the spoils when Dean Ashton netted midway through the second period.

Source: ESA