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Man Utd rout Newcastle, Arsenal held
February 24, 2008 09:12 IST
English Premier League leaders Arsenal suffered a double blow at 10-man Birmingham City on Saturday, conceding a stoppage-time penalty in a 2-2 draw and striker Eduardo da Silva breaking his left leg.
James McFadden equalised for Birmingham in the 95th minute after Theo Walcott's first league goals for Arsenal early in the second half had put the Londoners 2-1 ahead and on course for an eight-point lead in the title race.
The match was overshadowed by a third-minute tackle by Martin Taylor on Eduardo. The Brazilian-born Croatia international needed around 10 minutes of treatment before being taken to hospital with an oxygen mask over his mouth.
Taylor was shown a straight red card before McFadden gave Birmingham a surprise halftime lead.
Kicking off later, champions Manchester United seized their chance to reduce Arsenal's lead to three points when they thrashed Newcastle United 5-1 away from home -- Cristiano Ronaldo [Images] and Wayne Rooney [Images] both scoring twice at St James' Park.
Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick for Liverpool in a 3-2 home victory over Middlesbrough that moved them above Everton into fourth place.
UEFA Cup-chasing Portsmouth beat Sunderland 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Jermain Defoe while Wigan Athletic overcame bottom club Derby County 2-0.
Fulham remained deep in trouble after conceding a late goal in a 1-0 home defeat by West Ham United.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was quick blame Taylor after watching his side drop vital points.
"The tackle was horrendous and this guy [Taylor] should never play football again," Wenger told BBC television.
"The minimum is that the season is over [for Eduardo] and we're scared it is much longer."
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish defended Taylor for the tackle which did not appear too reckless but left Eduardo with such a severe injury Sky Sports television refused to show replays.
"Martin is distraught," said McLeish. "It's not in his nature to commit a malicious tackle. He didn't feel there was much contact."
Several Arsenal players were visibly upset at the nature of Eduardo's injury and they found themselves trailing to McFadden's sweet 28th-minute free kick after he had been bundled over by Mathieu Flamini.
McFadden wasted a glorious chance to make it 2-0 when he sliced wide before halftime and Birmingham were made to pay after the break as Arsenal took control.
After 49 minutes Emmanuel Adebayor challenged Birmingham keeper Maik Taylor for a high cross and the ball fell to Walcott to flick in the equaliser.
Six minutes later Arsenal went in front when Walcott's pace took him past a hesitant Liam Ridgewell and he drilled a low shot past Taylor.
Arsenal were cruising to a fifth consecutive league victory but their day had another grim twist when Gael Clichy was caught napping and brought down Stuart Parnaby, allowing McFadden to plant a powerful penalty past keeper Manuel Almunia.
Arsenal captain William Gallas could not contain his anger and kicked a hole in an advertising hoarding and seemed close to tears after the final whistle as he sat down on the turf.
United made sure Arsenal's misery was complete, dismissing a lame challenge from a Newcastle side who are yet to win since Kevin Keegan returned as manager last month and have managed just three points from the last 30 on offer.
Rooney tapped in United's opener after 25 minutes and Ronaldo made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime after a fine pass from Michael Carrick.
Ronaldo took his tally for the season to 29 when he took the ball round keeper Steve Harper. Abdoulaye Faye reduced the deficit but Rooney responded with a sublime curled finish and Louis Saha completed the rout after a teasing run from Rooney.