Defeats for top two English Premiership sides Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC, and a draw for third-placed Chelsea FC, saw Everton FC and Manchester United FC close the gap on the leaders on Saturday.
A Ruud van Nistelrooij hat-trick helped United earn a 5-3 win against fellow UEFA Champions League challengers Newcastle United FC in today's early game. Paul Scholes opened the scoring with a first-half volley but Newcastle equalised when Olivier Bernard's cross-cum-shot deceived Fabien Barthez in the United goal.
Van Nistelrooij strikes
Van Nistelrooij restored United’s lead before the interval from a Mikaël Silvestre cross, and they were two goals ahead as the Dutch striker pounced on a miscued Diego Forlán shot.
A terrific long-range strike from Alan Shearer saw Newcastle pull a goal back just after half-time, but United turned on the style again, with Van Nistelrooij converting a Forlán cross to complete his hat-trick before Ole Gunner Solskjær made it 5-2. A Craig Bellamy goal gave Newcastle hope, but United maintained their 30-year unbeaten home run against Newcastle without too many problems.
Leaders Arsenal were beaten 3-2 by Southampton FC at Saint Mary’s stadium. Dennis Bergkamp put the visitors ahead, but James Beattie equalised for Southampton on the stroke of half-time. England defender Sol Campbell was then sent off for a professional foul in the 58th minute, and Beattie converted the resulting penalty for his second of the game.
Agustin Delgado seemed to have made the game safe as he made it 3-1, but Robert Pires pulled a goal back ten minutes from time to ensure a grandstand finish.
Fulham spring surprise
Liverpool also lost 3-2, beaten at UEFA Cup contenders Fulham FC. An early goal from Facundo Sava gave the home side the lead, and Sean Davis made it 2-0 before half-time. Dietmar Hamann pulled a goal back just past the hour, but Sava scored again in the 68th minute and, although Fulham had Alain Goma sent off and Milan Baroš scored to make it 3-2, the home side held on to win.
Chelsea left it late at Bolton Wanderers FC, as Henrik Pedersen put the home side in front and Chelsea’s Nigerian defender Celestine Babayaro was then sent off. However, a 90th-minute strike from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink meant the visitors escaped with a 1-1 draw.
Everton go third
Everton FC move up to third thanks to their sixth consecutive win, the last five of which have been secured 1-0. Tomasz Radzinski’s first-half goal earned another single goal victory against West Bromwich Albion FC.
Middlesbrough FC saw off Manchester City FC, winning 3-1 at the Riverside stadium. Goals from Ugo Ehiogu and Alen Bokšic put the home side in command and, although Nicolas Anelka pulled a goal back for the visitors, the dismissal of Shaun Wright-Phillips ended their challenge, and Cameroonian international midfield player Geremi made it 3-1 late in the game.
Clinton Morrison’s late goal gave Birmingham City FC a vital 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Sunderland AFC, while West Ham United FC have slipped to the bottom of the table following a 4-1 defeat at Aston Villa FC. The home side’s goals came from Lee Hendrie, Øyvind Leonhardsen, Dion Dublin and Darius Vassell, with Paolo Di Canio’s goal the visitors’ only reply.
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