Chelsea defeat United to take control of title race

LONDON, April 3, 2010 (AFP) - Chelsea defeated title rivals Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday to move two points clear at the top of the Premier League while Arsenal stayed in the hunt with a last-gasp win over Wolves.

Chelsea's Frank Lampard celebrates at the final whistle after their 2-1 victory in the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester on April 3, 2010. AFP PHOTO

Carlo Ancelotti's side took the lead at Old Trafford through Joe Cole's flick in the 20th minute and Didier Drogba came off the bench to increase Chelsea's advantage from what looked an offside position in the 79th minute.

Federico Macheda got one back for United two minutes later but the Blues held on for a victory which puts them in pole position to win the title with both teams having just five games left to play.

Ancelotti said: "We wanted to be top after this match. It was hard but we played really well.

"Now we are the favourites. That's normal when we are back at the top of the league but nothing is decided."

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said: "Five games left, they're two points ahead and four goals better than us - they're in the driving seat.

"Chelsea are favourites, there's no question. I'm certain we'll respond but we could win the next five games and not win the title."

Chelsea took the lead in the 20th minute when Cole cleverly back-flicked Florent Malouda's cross past Edwin van der Sar from close-range.

Drogba came off the bench to increase Chelsea's lead in controversial circumstances in the 79th minute when the Ivory Coast striker slammed home Salomon Kalou's pass even though replays showed he was offside.

United, without injured star Wayne Rooney, got one back two minutes later as Macheda deflected the ball past Petr Cech despite Chelsea appeals for handball.

Arsenal closed the gap on the leaders to three points as Nicklas Bendtner's late goal clinched a 1-0 win over 10-man Wolves at the Emirates Stadium.

After a dour first half, Wolves captain Karl Henry was shown a straight red card in the 65th minute for a lunge on Tomas Rosicky.

That proved the turning point as Bendtner headed the winner in stoppage time from Bacary Sagna's cross.

"It keeps us in the title race," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger whose team's next mission is Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final return at Barcelona.

"First it was important to forget next week's match against Barcelona for 24 hours and focus on Wolves and that was not easy. But we did it well - I think we had a good focus.

"We were a bit jaded physically but we kept going and we were serious, we didn't make a mistake at the back. In the end we got a deserved victory."

Manchester City stormed into fourth place with a 6-1 demolition of second bottom Burnley at a rain-lashed Turf Moor.

Roberto Mancini's side scored three times in the first seven minutes through Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez.

Then Patrick Vieira scored his first goal for City, Adebayor added his second before the break and Vincent Kompany struck in the 58th minute.

Steven Fletcher scored for Burnley late on but Mancini's men are now one point ahead of Tottenham in the race for the final Champions league place.

Darren Bent missed two penalties but still made his point to Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp as the Sunderland striker's double clinched a 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light that dented his old club's push to finish fourth.

Redknapp once claimed even his wife would have taken a chance missed by Bent during his time at Spurs, but the England international got his revenge as he took just 36 seconds to get on the scoresheet with a close-range finish.

Bent added his second goal in the 29th minute as he converted a penalty and should have had a hat-trick before half-time but saw another penalty saved by Heurelho Gomes.

Incredibly Bent missed from spot again after the break and Peter Crouch reduced the deficit with a 72nd minute header, but Bolo Zenden's volley clinched the points in the 86th minute.

Aston Villa bounced back from their 7-1 defeat at Chelsea with a 1-0 win at Bolton thanks to Ashley Young's curling effort in the 11th minute.

Stoke pushed Hull deeper into trouble with a 2-0 win at the Britannia Stadium, Ricardo Fuller and Liam Lawrence scoring the goals.

Ten-man Portsmouth held on for a 0-0 draw at home to Blackburn after defender Anthony Van den Borre was sent off in the second half for a second yellow card.

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