Liverpool wins 3-0 to keep pressure on Man United
LONDON: Liverpool kept some pressure on Manchester United in the race for the Premier League title with a 3-0 win at West Ham on Saturday.
Steven Gerrard scored twice before a late goal by substitute Ryan Babel helped take Liverpool to 80 points, the same as the defending champions.
United, though, have played two fewer games than the Reds and face visiting Manchester City on Sunday. Seven points from its last four matches would seal United's third straight championship and extend Liverpool's wait for the title to 20 years.
"We've got to do our job which is to win our remaining games," Gerrard said. "If they win their remaining games, fair play to them they deserve to win it.
"But we've got to keep the pressure on." United's task would have been easier had Liverpool failed to beat in-form West Ham and Gerrard put the visitors ahead after just 76 seconds.
The England midfielder collected a pass down the right from Fernando Torres and, with the Hammers' defense wrongly appealing for offside, ran around goalkeeper Robert Green before shooting into the empty net.
Green did manage to save a 38th-minute penalty by Gerrard, which was awarded for a pull and a push by Luis Boa Morte on Torres, but the ball rebounded back across goal and Gerrard tapped it into the net for 2-0.
West Ham had its best chance to respond just before halftime when Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher missed the ball while attempting a simple pass across the ground.
Striker David Di Michele pounced on the loose ball and ran in on goal, but miscontrolled it while trying to get around goalkeeper Pepe Reina and fell over appealing for a penalty - only to get a yellow card for diving.
Babel made it 3-0 in the 84th from close range after Green had saved the Netherlands forward's initial header.
United can restore its three-point advantage Sunday, when third-place Chelsea is at fourth-place Arsenal.
West Bromwich Albion kept alive its slim hopes of avoiding relegation with a 3-1 win over Wigan.
With Hull losing 2-1 against visiting Stoke, the Baggies' second win from three games means West Brom still has a chance of climbing out of the relegation zone with two games remaining.
On-loan striker Marc-Antoine Fortune scored twice to help lift West Brom to 31 points, the same as Newcastle and Middlesbrough, who meet Monday. Hull is just three points further ahead and is in danger after its winless streak was stretched to eight Premier League matches.
"I can't do anything about anyone else's results. I've got to look after our own and keep going," West Brom manager Tony Mowbray said. "I think the great credit for this team is they are still trying to play their football and still be brave enough to play it.
"Today we got our rewards." Stoke and Blackburn, which beat visiting Portsmouth 2-0, are now sure to be in the top flight next season.
Fortune put Wigan ahead in the eighth minute with a header and, although Hugo Rodallega equalized, Chris Brunt restored the home team's lead in the 59th.
Fortune then hit a low shot into the bottom corner to complete the scoring.
Ricardo Fuller and Liam Lawrence gave Stoke the victory that keeps Hull in danger of relegation, while Sunderland is still not safe after failing to convert its superiority into goals and drawing 0-0 at Bolton.
Morten Gamst Pedersen scored his first goal since the final day of last season before Benni McCarthy hit a penalty to secure victory for Blackburn.
Everton drew 0-0 with visiting Tottenham for goalkeeper Tim Howard to set a club record with a 16th Premier League clean sheet in a season, while Fulham continued Aston Villa's poor run with a 3-1 victory.
Villa is in fifth place but has won just one of its past 11 league matches.