Spurs reinforce fourth spot

LONDON - Tottenham Hotspur strengthened their claim for a top-four finish in the Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham on Tuesday as Liverpool could only manage a 0-0 draw at struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Peter Crouch and David Bentley scored at White Hart Lane to keep Spurs in fourth place with 41 points, above a clutch of teams battling for a shot at next season's Champions League.

Liverpool, runners-up to Manchester United last season, could not break down Wolves despite Steven Gerrard returning from a hamstring injury to play the full 90 minutes but moved up one place to fifth, three points back.

Manchester City, who play Manchester United in the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday, are also three points behind Tottenham but have two games in hand while Aston Villa are on 36 points before their home game with Arsenal.

Burnley dropped into the relegation zone for the first time this season after a 1-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers who enjoyed their first win under manager Owen Coyle who joined them from the Lancashire club this month.

Bolton moved up to 15th, ahead of West Ham United who stay above the drop zone on goal difference after a 1-1 draw at bottom club Portsmouth.

With the title race now between champions Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, who both have the chance to go top on Wednesday, the scrap for fourth place looks like going all the way to the end of the season.


Tottenham did their chances no harm with a routine win over a Fulham side with just one away league win all season.

A terrible lapse in Fulham's defence gifted Spurs their opener after 28 minutes, Crouch scoring from close range after Luca Modric robbed a day-dreaming Bjorn Helge Riise in the area and crossed low for the England striker to convert.

Riise was involved in Tottenham's second goal early in the second half, although this time he was unlucky as Bentley's curling free kick flicked off his head to wrong foot Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

"Three points was the main thing tonight," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, whose side have stuttered of late, told Sky Sports. "It was a good performance and well deserved, we dominated the game and our keeper didn't have much to do."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was again forced to defend his team selection after their tally of dropped points moved to 31, three more than they conceded in the whole of 2008-09.

Midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who cost the club 20 million pounds when he signed from AS Roma, was again left on the bench.

"We had another 11 players on the pitch who did well," Benitez told the BBC. "Today we had to decide between Gerrard and Aquilani and we thought Gerrard would be more dangerous going forward. The positive was Gerrard playing 90 minutes."

Chung Yong Lee's goal was enough for Bolton to beat rivals Burnley at the Reebok Stadium where some away fans held aloft "Judas" banners aimed at Coyle.

Danny Webber salvaged a point for Portsmouth after West Ham had gone in front at Fratton Park with a Younes Kaboul own goal.