LONDON - Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers 3-1 at Ewood Park on Saturday to stay top of the Premier League and increase the pressure on Rovers manager Paul Ince whose team have now gone 10 league matches without a win. Xabi Alonso got the breakthrough goal after 69 minutes before Yossi Benayoun added a second and Steven Gerrard scored a late third to take Liverpool to 37 points from 16 matches. The top four all won with Chelsea beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0, Manchester United overcoming a stubborn Sunderland side 1-0 and Arsenal edging Wigan Athletic 1-0. Chelsea, one point behind the leaders, won thanks to goals from former Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka and a spectacular bicycle kick from Deco. The victory was Chelsea's 11th successive away win, eclipsing the record of 10 straight victories on the road set by Tottenham Hotspur in 1960. Manchester United stayed third having moved on to 31 points after a hard-fought win over Sunderland whose manager, former United player Roy Keane, resigned on Thursday. Sunderland, under caretaker manager Ricky Sbragia, a former United reserve team coach, were battered for almost the entire match at Old Trafford before conceding a last minute goal. Serbian international Nemanja Vidic pounced to score much to the relief of the home fans after the ball rebounded off a post following a deflected shot from Michael Carrick. The defeat leaves Sunderland third from bottom. Arsenal remain fourth on 29 points after beating visitors Wigan Athletic 1-0 with a first-half Emmanuel Adebayor goal. Arsenal hit the woodwork twice but had to endure a tense finale at the Emirates after Wigan stormed forward looking for the equaliser. BREAKTHROUGH GOAL While Liverpool stayed top, Ince, their former player and now the Rovers manager, was putting a brave face on his side's fifth straight league defeat. Ince has come under intense media speculation following Rovers slide down the table but told Sky Sports News he was delighted with his team's performance. "The spirit has always been there, it has never been in question. The players and the fans see everything that has been in the papers but it was good today the way everyone came together as one. We gave a fantastic performance and if we carry on like that we will be OK." However, Blackburn, who are 19th, will find themselves bottom if West Bromwich Albion beat Portsmouth on Sunday. Elsewhere, Fulham drew 1-1 with Manchester City in the early game, Newcastle United were held 2-2 by Stoke City after leading 2-0 with two first-half Michael Owen goals and Hull City beat Middlesbrough 2-1 with all three goals in the last 11 minutes. KINNEAR BANISHED Newcastle seemed to be coasting to victory against Stoke, but the visitors grabbed a point after Mamady Sidibe pulled one back on the hour and former Newcastle defender Abdoulaye Faye equalised in the last minute. Newcastle coach Joe Kinnear was banished from the dugout by the referee just before the end of the match. Most of the drama at the KC Stadium came late in the game after Middlesbrough took the lead through Tuncay Sanli who scored with a clever backheel. Hull, whose bright start to the season had faltered after six matches without a win, equalised when Bernard Mendy's shot came back off a post, hit Boro keeper Ross Turnbull and went in. The third goal came three minutes later when David Wheater was sent off for fouling Geovanni in the box and Marlon King scored with the ensuing penalty that took Hull into fifth place, at least until Aston Villa play Everton on Sunday.
6 December 2008
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