United truimph whilst relegation scrap continues
Saturday 16 May 2009
Manchester United claimed their third successive Barclays Premier League title today after a goalless draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side needed only a point to seal the trophy in the day's lunchtime kick-off and a steady if unspectacular performance delivered just that, making it 11 Premier League crowns in total for the Scot and 18 top-flight titles for the club overall.
United were rarely troubled by an improved Arsenal side, for whom Andrey Arshavin looked lively and Robin van Persie went close late on.
But the hosts held firm at the back and finished the job to move seven points clear of Liverpool, who travel to West Brom tomorrow but can no longer catch Ferguson's team.
In the day's other fixtures, the focus moved to the other end of the table where Hull moved out of the bottom three after battling to a 1-1 draw at Bolton, but will view it as two points dropped after squandering a host of opportunities at the Reebok Stadium.
Things looked ominous for Phil Brown's team after Gretar Steinsson's drilled effort gave the hosts a 26th-minute lead but the Tigers were unlucky not to pull one back in the first half and finally made a breakthrough a minute after the restart when Danny Shittu's error let in Craig Fagan to equalise.
The visitors went close on several occasions thereafter but with Jussi Jaaskelainen in inspired form between the Bolton posts, they could not find the elusive second goal and are now just a point above the drop zone going into the final round of matches next week.
Middlesbrough are staring relegation in the face after a 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa when only a win would really do.
The hosts started in determined fashion and took a 1-0 lead when Tuncay executed a stunning overhead kick on the quarter-hour mark, giving the home fans fresh hope their side might beat the drop.
But Villa came back into it and John Carew curled a delightful equaliser just before the hour to leave Gareth Southgate's side second from bottom and three points from safety with only a single game remaining.
Newcastle suffered perhaps the most damaging result of the three, succumbing 1-0 to Fulham at St James' Park after Diomansy Kamara slotted the ball past Steve Harper in the 41st minute.
Mark Viduka thought he had equalised five minutes after the break having towered above the visitors' defence to crash home a header, but Howard Webb disallowed the goal after spotting Kevin Nolan obstructing Mark Schwarzer.
And things got even worse for Alan Shearer's side minutes later when Sebastien Bassong was sent off for holding back Kamara.
The result means that Newcastle are a point from safety in 18th with a game to play, while Fulham are within touching distance of European football next season.
Tottenham are the only team that can still catch the Cottagers and they continued their late push for the Europa League with a 2-1 victory over Manchester City at White Hart Lane.
Jermain Defoe gave the hosts a 1-0 lead with a cheeky flick on the half hour before Valeri Bojinov equalised midway through the second half.
But Spurs nicked it at the end after a controversial penalty decision, Robbie Keane slotting home the spot-kick after Micah Richards was adjudged to have fouled Fraizer Campbell.
Like City, West Ham's Europa League hopes are also over after they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Everton.
Radoslav Kovac put the Hammers in front but they found themselves down to 10 men when Tim Cahill was floored by James Tomkins, who was dismissed for a professional foul.
Louis Saha scored from the spot and Joseph Yobo made it 2-1 three minutes into the second half before Saha wrapped up the victory 15 minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Stoke capped their impressive season with a final home win, Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie netting in the second half to give the Potters a 2-0 win over Wigan and move them above Steve Bruce's side in the table.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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