|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Late equaliser keeps Arsenal top
March 01, 2008 23:32 IST
Last Updated: March 02, 2008 09:59 IST
Arsenal scored a late goal to force a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa although their lead at the top of the English Premier League was cut to one point after Manchester United won 3-0 at Fulham on Saturday.
Substitute Nicklas Bendtner netted with seconds remaining to deny Villa victory and take Arsenal to 65 points, one more than United who stay second.
Third-placed Chelsea won 4-0 at West Ham United despite having Frank Lampard [Images], who scored the opening goal against his former club, sent off after 33 minutes for what appeared to be an innocuous push on Luis Boa Morte.
Chelsea have 58 points and a game in hand on the top two.
For much of the afternoon, Arsenal struggled against Villa and looked to be heading for their first home league defeat of the season and only their second at the Emirates since moving there at the start of last season.
Villa went ahead when Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos turned a Gabriel Agbonlahor shot into his own net after 27 minutes and were in control with some excellent football.
However, Arsenal kept pushing forward and were rewarded just before the end with Bendtner's close-range goal.
"We were dominated physically and technically by Aston Villa but came back in the second half. The point could be of vital importance at the end of the season," relieved Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports News.
Manchester United, who had not been beaten at Fulham since 1964, never looked like losing that record after Owen Hargreaves put them ahead with a clever free kick in the 15th minute, his first goal for United.
Park Ji-sung's 44th minute header and a Simon Davies own goal after 72 minutes gave United a straightforward victory, leaving Fulham deep in relegation trouble.
"It was a professional performance and we did the job well," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.
Birmingham City improved their chances of avoiding the drop with a 4-1 home victory over League Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur thanks to a Mikael Forssell hat-trick.
Sebastian Larsson, who struck a stunning last-minute winner when Birmingham beat Spurs 3-2 at White Hart Lane in December, scored again from a free kick early in the second half.
Spurs, who beat Chelsea to win the League Cup last Sunday, slumped to their heaviest loss of the season.
Reading ended a run of eight successive league defeats with a 1-0 victory at Middlesbrough, James Harper scoring the only goal in the final minute.
However, Reading stayed in the relegation zone along with Fulham and Derby County, who drew 0-0 at home to Sunderland as the visitors ended a run of 10 successive away league defeats.
But there was no joy for Newcastle United, who dominated at home against Blackburn Rovers but lost to a late breakaway goal from Matt Derbyshire that secured a 1-0 win.
Newcastle have failed to win in seven league and cup matches since Kevin Keegan returned as manager in mid-January while Blackburn's win maintains their challenge for a UEFA Cup place.
Saturday's late match ended in a goalless draw between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic which slightly eased Wigan's relegation worries but did little to boost City's hopes of European football next season.