Fulham derail United; Chelsea lose

London, March 22:

Sir Alex Ferguson has been forced to admit the Premier League title race is back on after watching his side slump to a 2-0 defeat at Fulham in a match where Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney were sent off.

Chelsea, beaten 1-0 at Tottenham, were unable to capitalise on the champions’ slip-up can cut their rivals’ lead at the top to one point by beating Aston Villa. Arsenal beat Newcastle 3-1.

A Danny Murphy penalty and Zoltan Gera’s late strike sealed the points for Fulham, condemning United to back-to-back league defeats for the first time in almost four years.

Scholes was ordered off after only 17 minutes for the goalline handball that allowed Murphy to open the scoring. Rooney was given his marching orders after collecting a second yellow card moments after Gera’s 87th-minute strike.

United’s slip-up ensured that Chelsea’s first defeat under temporary manager Guus Hiddink was particularly frustrating. Luka Modric made the difference, finishing off Aaron Lennon’s clever cutback five minutes after half-time.

Arsenal increased the pressure on Villa by beating Newcastle 3-1, a win that leaves their hosts in the relegation zone.

Obafemi Martins cancelled out Nicklas Bendtner’s opener for the Gunners inside a minute just before the hour mark. But Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri quickly killed the contest to leave Arsenal three points clear of Villa in fourth place.

Everton now look to be out of the race for fourth after a 2-1 defeat by struggling Portsmouth. Stoke dragged themselves out of the bottom three with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough. Blackburn battled for a 1-1 draw with West Ham and West Brom’s chances of hauling themselves off the bottom look bleak after drawing 1-1 with Bolton.

Spanish La Liga

MADRID: A hat-trick from Mali international Freddy Kanoute masterminded Sevilla’s 4-1 win over Valladolid on Saturday as they stayed six points ahead of Villarreal in the Champions League race. Kanoute was the star of the show with two first half goals and a brilliant second half header to seal his treble and take his season’s tally to 15.

Villarreal had closed to within three points of Sevilla but Manolo Jimenez’s team responded with their 16th win of the season to consolidate third place. Earlier, Villarreal put the pressure on Champions League rivals Atletico Madrid and Malaga with a 2-0 home victory over 10-man Bilbao.