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Rediff.com  » Sports » Middlesbrough rout Manchester United 4-1

Middlesbrough rout Manchester United 4-1

October 30, 2005 07:52 IST

Leaders Chelsea returned to winning ways with a 4-2 home victory over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday while Arsenal recovered from a goal down to draw 1-1 at north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Manchester United were stunned 4-1 by a Gaizka Mendieta-inspired Middlesbrough and only Cristiano Ronaldo's late header prevented the twice European champions' going down to their worst league defeat this century.

Knocked out of the League Cup on Wednesday, Chelsea threw away a two-goal lead against Rovers before strikes by Frank Lampard and Joe Cole brought them a victory that preserved their nine-point lead at the top.

French midfielder Robert Pires, who was ridiculed after a bizarre penalty miss against Manchester City last weekend, scored a second-half equaliser for Arsenal to cancel out Ledley King's first half goal for Spurs.

That result meant promoted Wigan Athletic jumped to second place after French defender Pascal Chimbonda's stoppage time header gave them a 1-0 home win over Fulham.

Champions Chelsea have 31 points from 11 games, with Wigan on 22 points from 10. Spurs have 20, the same as Bolton Wanderers who won 1-0 at Charlton Athletic. United are sixth with 18 points with Arsenal are seventh on 17.

Everton lifted themselves off the bottom with a 1-0 win at Birmingham and there were also victories for Liverpool and Portsmouth, who sent Sunderland to the foot of the table by winning 4-1 at the Stadium of Light.

Goals by Ivory Cost striker Didier Drogba and Lampard, with a penalty, put Chelsea in control early on at Stamford Bridge.

KEEPER'S ERROR

But Rovers striker Craig Bellamy netted a spotkick and then took advantage of an error by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech to make the score 2-2 at halftime.

Slightly fortuitous second-half strikes by Lampard and Joe Cole though, settled the match in the champions' favour.

"It was the perfect answer," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told Sky Sports TV. "Especially because of the very difficult circumstances. We were winning 2-0...it was a test of our personality."

King's headed goal after 17 minutes, from a free kick by the outstanding Michael Carrick, was the least Spurs deserved for a dominant first-half display at White Hart Lane.

After the break, Pires, a second half substitute, injected some much-needed purpose into the visitors and he swept home the equaliser after 77 minutes when Spurs keeper Paul Robinson flapped at a Dennis Bergkamp cross.

The draw left Spurs without a win over their fierce rivals in their last 13 encounters.

GOOD RESPONSE

"We feel a bit like it's a victory because we had a good response, we showed great spirit in the second half," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

Spaniard Mendieta took less than two minutes to put Middlesbrough ahead against Manchester United with a blistering shot from outside the area which Edwin van der Sar failed to stop despite getting both hands on the ball.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink outwitted Rio Ferdinand to lash home the second after being released down the flank by Mendieta before Kieran Richardson's foul on Stuart Parnaby allowed Yakubu to convert from the penalty spot and give the home side a three-goal advantage at the break.

Yakubu's fine run to the byline set up Mendieta to drive home the fourth in the 77th minute, sealing United's worst defeat since they lost by a simlar score at Manchester City in March last year.

At Wigan, Fulham wasted a series of early chances and paid dearly when Chimbonda muscled aside his marker and headed in Graham Kavanagh's free kick two minutes into stoppage time.

It was Wigan's seventh consecutive win in all competitions and their fifth in a row in the Premier League.

Striker Kevin Nolan converted a pass by Japan's Hidetoshi Nakata to give Bolton a deserved victory at Charlton.

Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso and Dutch midfielder Boudewijn Zenden gave European champions Liverpool a much-needed 2-0 victory over West Ham United at Anfield.

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