United held as Pompey win at last

LONDON: Manchester United wasted a chance to cement their position at the top of the Premier League after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to ten-man Sunderland on Saturday.

Only a deflected, stoppage-time equaliser from Patrice Evra salvaged a point for the champions, who could now be knocked off the top of the table if Chelsea win their Sunday showdown with Liverpool.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side had kicked off looking for a ninth consecutive win in all competitions.

But they twice fell behind to Steve Bruce's side, who conceded the late equaliser after former United winger Kieran Richardson had been sent off after being booked for a second time for petulantly kicking the ball away at a free-kick.

Darren Bent stunned United in the seventh minute when he drove a low shot past Ben Foster from the edge of the penalty area for his seventh goal of the season.

United equalised in spectacular fashion in the 51st minute through Dimitar Berbatov's overhead kick only for Kenwyne Jones to restore the lead by rising above Foster to head in Andy Reid's cross.

The Black Cats were set for their first win at Old Trafford since 1968 but their evening ended in frustration as Evra's shot found the net off the boot of Anton Ferdinand.

At the other end of the table, Portsmouth glimpsed some light at the end of a very dark tunnel as the crisis-hit club finally claimed their first points of the season with a 1-0 win at Wolves.

At the end of a week in which the failure to pay September salaries on time raised concerns the club could be on the brink of bankruptcy, a first-half goal from Hassan Yebda was enough to draw a line under a run of seven straight defeats for Paul Hart's side.

After the match, a relieved Hart confirmed the outstanding wages owed to certain players and staff will be paid on Monday and claimed new owner Sulaiman Al-Fahim was planning a 150-million-pound injection of cash.

"I think what is best said is over the next few days we will have new investment and this club will have some good news instead of bad stuff," Hart said.

"Everyone knows our problems and what we have been through the last six months. These players have had everything thrown at them but they have stayed strong."

It was also a day of relief for Portsmouth's fellow strugglers Hull, who escaped from the relegation zone with a 2-1 win over Wigan.

But Tottenham's aspirations to breaking into the top four took a dent as they were obliged to twice come from behind to draw 2-2 at Bolton.

Burnley made it four wins from four home matches this season by beating Birmingham 2-1 at Turf Moor.

The goal that ended Portsmouth's miserable run came in the 19th minute, when Yebda, on loan from Benfica, headed in Kevin-Prince Boateng's cross.

Portsmouth defender Mark Wilson was fortunate to escape sanction for what appeared to be a blatant hand-ball inside the penalty area and only a superb late stop by David James denied Greg Halford a volleyed equaliser.

"Yes, we got a few breaks today but we have earned it," added Hart. "Some of the defending was excellent."

Former Celtic striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink notched his first Premier League goal for Hull with a near post header to give Phil Brown's side the lead against Wigan.

Brazilian playmaker Geovanni doubled the lead with just over 20 minutes left but on-loan Chelsea striker Scott Sinclair ensured a tense finale for the home supporters by pulling a goal back for the visitors three minutes from the end.

Bolton were twice pegged back by Tottenham in an entertaining encounter at the Reebok Stadium.

Ricardo Gardner put Bolton into the lead after only three minutes had elapsed, firing home a rebound after Korean midfielder Lee Chung-Yong's shot was blocked.

Niko Kranjcar, with his first goal for Tottenham since his transfer deadline-day move from Portsmouth, levelled ten minutes before half-time.