Toon Win Puts Them Safe!
Wayne Rooney scored a dramatic hat-trick as leaders Manchester United produced another sensational late comeback from 2-0 down to beat West Ham 4-2 and edge closer to the Barclays Premier League title. The Red Devils appeared certain to open the door for their rivals when their defence went into meltdown to gift the Hammers two penalties which Mark Noble despatched. But the leaders were rewarded for going for broke in the second half, Rooney starting the fightback with just 25 minutes remaining and completing his 14-minute treble from the spot before Javier Hernandez sealed the points. And a good day for Sir Alex Ferguson's men got even better later in the afternoon as both Arsenal and Chelsea were held. The Gunners drew 0-0 with Blackburn at the Emirates in the teatime game. Arsene Wenger's side - who now trail leaders United by seven points with a match in hand - had plenty of possession, but were unable to really test Paul Robinson. Rovers - who had lost five of the last eight matches - grew in confidence and survived the sending off of midfielder Steven Nzonzi to earn a useful point in their battle against relegation. Fernando Torres drew another blank as Chelsea's slim hopes of muscling back in on the title race were then effectively ended in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Stoke. Torres was initially left on the bench by boss Carlo Ancelotti and despite being brought on for the final half-hour, he failed to make an impact as the home side came closest to grabbing all three points. The visitors were stunned after just eight minutes when Jonathan Walters ended a run from the half-way line by blasting the opener past Petr Cech. But after near-misses from Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, Ancelotti's brave team selection looked set to pay off when Nicolas Anelka floated in a cross and Didier Drogba headed a 33rd-minute equaliser. Drogba hit the post in the second half but Stoke had the best chances with Cech saving brilliantly from Marc Wilson and Robert Huth, before Ricardo Fuller missed a sitter in injury time. Chelsea's failure to take the points leaves them 11 behind United. Elsewhere Roy Hodgson exacted delicious revenge over the side that sacked him three months ago as West Brom gave their survival hopes a massive boost with a 2-1 win over Liverpool. Martin Skrtel headed the visitors into the lead five minutes into the second half, but Baggies captain Chris Brunt equalised with a 62nd-minute penalty after Sotirios Kyrgiakos pulled down Peter Odemwingie. Brunt grabbed the dramatic winner two minutes from time with his second spot-kick, firing home low after Odemwingie had fallen under the challenge of Pepe Reina. Gerard Houllier remains under pressure as Aston Villa boss after Leighton Baines' late penalty denied his side all three points in a controversial game at Everton. Leon Osman hit a 38th-minute opener for the home side, but Darren Bent equalised two minutes into the second half after converting a Stewart Downing cross. Jermaine Beckford thought he had put the home side back in front on 68 when his shot hit the underside of the bar and appeared to bounce down over the goalline. But referee Mike Jones waved away home protests and Villa promptly raced up the other end where Bent slotted home his second. Baines' late spot-kick secured a 2-2 draw. Tottenham failed to close in on a Champions League place after Harry Redknapp's below-par side were held to a goalless draw at Wigan. The home side had the best chances with Hugo Rodallega and Charles N'Zogbia having the best first-half opportunities, and substitute Conor Sammon bringing a fine save out of Heurelho Gomez late on. Kevin Phillips scored his first Premier League goal in a year and Craig Gardner added a second as Birmingham eased their relegation fears with a 2-1 home win over Bolton. Phillips took just four minutes to get on the scoresheet in his first league start of the year, and Gardner slid home a 59th-minute second after being set up by Cameron Jerome. Johan Elmander scored Bolton's consolation.