United leave it late to sink Everton


Manchester United moved nine points clear at the top of the Premier League as Javier Hernandez’s late goal clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Everton on Saturday. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side found it tough to break down a resolute Everton defence and looked in danger of dropping two points at Old Trafford, but Mexican striker Hernandez ended the stalemate with a close-range header seven minutes from full-time.
Hernandez’s winner piles the pressure back onto title rivals Chelsea and Arsenal, who both trail United by nine points. Second placed Chelsea host West Ham later on Saturday, while third placed Arsenal travel to Bolton on Sunday. Whatever happens in those games, Ferguson is confident his side can end the title race by beating Arsenal and Chelsea in their next two matches. United finally made the breakthrough in the 83rd minute when Antonio Valencia’s cross to the far post was headed in by Hernandez from virtually on the goal-line.
Tottenham wasted a chance to leapfrog fourth-placed Manchester City as West Bromwich Albion secured a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane. Albion took the lead in the fifth minute through Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie. Roman Pavlyuchenko equalised in the 27th minute and Jermain Defoe hit his 100th Premier League goal in the 66th minute to put Spurs ahead.
But Simon Cox equalised for Albion in the 81st minute and Spurs are now one point behind City, who travel to Blackburn on Monday. Liverpool’s resurgence under Kenny Dalglish continued as Maxi Rodriguez’s hat-trick inspired a 5-0 win against Birmingham at Anfield. Dalglish’s sixth-placed team took just seven minutes to open the scoring through Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt increased Liverpool’s advantage in the 23rd minute. Rodriguez got his second goal in the 66th minute and the Argentina midfielder completed his treble in the 73rd minute before Joe Cole struck in the 86th minute. Blackpool climbed out of the bottom three with a 1-1 draw against Newcastle at Bloomfield Road. Peter Lovenkrands fired Newcastle into a 17th minute lead but DJ Campbell headed the 32nd minute equaliser and Blackpool are now ahead of third bottom Wigan on goal difference. Sunderland eased their relegation fears with a 4-2 victory over Wigan at the Stadium of Light. Steve Bruce’s side had lost eight of their last nine games and they were heading for another defeat when Mohamed Diame put Wigan ahead in the 52nd minute. But Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan equalised three minutes later and Jordan Henderson netted in the 66th minute. Stephane Sessegnon scored a 73rd minute penalty and Henderson struck again four minutes later before Franco Di Santo got one back for Wigan.
Second bottom Wolves’ hopes of avoiding relegation were dented as Fulham drew 1-1 at Molineux. Steven Fletcher scored with a tremendous header from Karl Henry’s cross in the 22nd minute to put Wolves in front. But Andrew Johnson levelled in the 80th minute after Fulham boss Mark Hughes was sent to the stands for protesting against a booking for Brede Hangeland. Aston Villa couldn’t give ill boss Gerard Houllier, who has been hospitalised with chest pains, a much-needed tonic as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke.