Liverpool maintain lead atop EPL table

London, December 7:

Liverpool remained in pole position in the English Premier League as all the top four clubs won on Saturday.

The Reds’ 3-1 victory away to Blackburn Rovers kept them a point ahead of Chelsea after the Londoners beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0. Chelsea’s win saw them surpass Tottenham Hotspur’s English record of 10 successive top-flight away victories set in 1960.

Manchester United remained six points behind Liverpool in third place although they needed Nemanja Vidic’s stoppage-time goal to secure a 1-0 win over Sunderland. Arsenal stayed in the top four with a 1-0 win at home to Wigan secured by a goal from Emmanuel Adebayor.

Elsewhere, Newcastle, on course for victory after Michael Owen scored twice, were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Stoke while Hull came from behind to beat Middlesbrough 2-1. Earlier, Fulham and Manchester City shared points in a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.

Xabi Alonso broke the deadlock in the 69th minute when he sidefooted in Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s cross. Then, 10 minutes later, Yossi Benayoun went past Stephen Warnock before shooting beyond Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal. Roque Santa Cruz pulled a goal back four minutes from time before Gerrard wrapped up the three points with an injury-time effort.

Nicolas Anelka headed Chelsea into a ninth-minute lead. The Blues made it 2-0 in spectacular fashion through Deco’s acrobatic ‘bicycle-kick’ in the 21st minute.

Owen gave Newcastle the lead when he turned in an eighth-minute cross from Jonas Gutierrez before making it 2-0 in the 24th minute. Stoke pulled a goal back on the hour mark when Mamady Sidibe scored from close range. And they were level in the dying seconds when Abdoulaye Faye scored against his former club.

Spanish La Liga

MADRID: Thierry Henry grabbed a hat-trick as Barcelona romped to a 4-0 demolition of Valencia to extend their lead at the top of the Spanish first division to six points.

Henry scored in the 19th, 27th and 79th minutes with Dani Alves also on the mark, as Barca stretched their advantage after second-placed Villarreal drew 3-3 against Getafe. Barca are now unbeaten in their last 20 games in all competitions — 13 in the league.

Valencia are eight points behind Barca, who are threatening to run away with the title. Villarreal are their nearest rivals and showed the spirit of champions coming from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Getafe. Getafe scored three times in the first half and looked set for another giant-killing act after defeating Real Madrid 3-1 last weekend. Villarreal gave their home fans a scintillating performance after the interval with Robert Pires pulling a goal back before Sebastian Eguren and Giuseppe Rossi struck in the final seven minutes.

Atletico Madrid climbed to fifth with a thumping 5-2 win at Sporting Gijon. Sporting took a fourth minute lead through Mate Bilic but Argentine Sergio “Kun” Aguero scored a first half brace to turn the game in Atletico’s favour. Diego Forlan scored twice and Maxi Rodriguez was also in target in the second half as Atletico ran riot. Atletico moved above Sevilla on goal difference.