Liverpool win at Hull to keep pressure on United

Hull 1 Liverpool 3
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The Independent Football

Dirk Kuyt maintained Liverpool's slim title hopes today, scoring twice in the second half to clinch a 3-1 victory at struggling Hull.

Liverpool overtook Manchester United on goal difference at the top of the Premier League, but the defending champions were playing Tottenham in the late match in the first of two games in hand.

Chelsea, which won 1-0 at West Ham, remains three points off the lead.

Xabi Alonso put Liverpool ahead on the stroke of half time, striking a free kick against Hull's defensive wall and volleying the rebound into the roof of the net.

Hull was reduced to 10 men in the 59th when Caleb Folan was sent off for kicking out at Martin Skrtel.

Still aggrieved by that decision, Hull conceded a second goal four minutes later when Kuyt headed home after reacting to Skrtel's scuffed shot.

But the home side pulled one back in the 72nd, with the unmarked Geovanni slotting into the net after latching on to Daniel Cousin's low cross.

Kuyt settled Liverpool's nerves in the 89th after a sloppy performance, reacting quickly when Boaz Myhill parried Alvaro Arbeloa's shot.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez complained about the state of the KC Stadium's playing surface.

"The ball is like a rabbit and it is difficult to catch a rabbit," he said.

Hull's third straight loss left Phil Brown's side just three points above the relegation zone, having been in the top four in October.

Bottom-placed West Bromwich Albion won for the first time in three months, dispatching Sunderland 3-0 to close the gap on next-from-bottom Newcastle to two points.

At Upton Park, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink left Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba on the bench ahead of Tuesday's Champions League semifinal first leg at Barcelona.

The Blues took until the 55th to score, with Salomon Kalou controlling Frank Lampard's cross and firing it past West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech responded to recent criticism by saving a second-half penalty from Mark Noble.

Fulham dislodged West Ham from the seventh European qualification spot by beating Stoke 1-0. Erik Nevland netted the winner in the 29th, playing a one-two with Andy Johnson before slotting past Thomas Sorensen.

Manchester City is just three points behind the London club after winning 2-1 at FA Cup finalist Everton — just its second away win of the season.

Robinho scored his second goal in two matches in the 35th by firing through Tim Howard's legs.

The Brazil forward turned provider in the 54th, sending in a cross for Stephen Ireland to finish, before Dan Gosling scored a stoppage-time consolation goal for Everton.

Jonas Olsson put West Brom ahead against the run of play in the 40th against Sunderland. Chris Brunt and on-loan midfielder Juan Carlos Menseguez completed the comprehensive win with second-half goals to keep their side with a mathematical chance of avoiding relegation.

While still fifth, Aston Villa is without a win since the start of February. Ashley Young scored his first goal in 18 games for Villa, but Israel midfielder Tamir Cohen marked his first start of the season for Bolton with an equalizer.

Wolverhampton won the League Championship with a 1-1 draw with Barnsley, while Southampton was relegated after drawing 2-2 with Burnley. Southampton will start next season in League One with a 10-point penalty imposed for going into administration.

Also in the second tier, Roy Keane enjoyed a successful start as Ipswich manager, winning 3-0 at Cardiff.

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