posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 06:41 AM
Wayne Rooney got both goals as Manchester United beat Portsmouth 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday night to cut Chelsea's lead to six points at the top
of the Premiership.
The country's most famous teenager put the Red Devils ahead with a superb half-volley on eight minutes.But United's slim title hopes were fading fast
after Gary O'Neil levelled with a superb volley two minutes into the second half. Rooney had the last word though, picking up a pass from the
returning Ruud van Nistelrooy, beating one man and slotting coolly home from close range. United have now played one more game than the leaders, who
are involved in Sunday's Carling Cup final against Liverpool.
Everton maintained their challenge for a Champions League place with a comfortable 3-1 win at Aston Villa. Leon Osman put the Toffees ahead with his
sixth goal of the campaign thanks to Tim Cahill's creativity. The Australian's curling cross from the left evaded the lunge of Marcus Bent but Osman
was alert behind him at the far post to head home 17 minutes in. Nolberto Solano equalised a minute into the second half but Cahill restored Everton's
advantage two minutes later when he met Bent's cross. After 67 minutes the game was put beyond Villa's reach when Bent fed Cahill, who strolled into
the box before his centre found Osman who scored his second.
Arsenal lost further ground at the top of the table when Peter Crouch snatched a precious equaliser for struggling Southampton as both teams were
reduced to 10 men at St Mary's. Freddie Ljungberg's goal from close range, soon after David Prutton's 44th-minute sending-off, looked to have put the
Gunners in control. But they also had Robin van Persie dismissed for a second caution 12 minutes after the break and Crouch's header levelled midway
through the second half. Arsenal dominated the latter stages but Thierry Henry was twice denied by Saints reserve goalkeeper Paul Smith in the last 10
minutes before a linesman ruled out Ashley Cole's last-gasp header for offside.
Crystal Palace moved four points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win over Birmingham, as former Blues striker Andrew Johnson converted two
penalties. With neither West Brom nor Norwich in action on Saturday, Palace's win moves them a step closer to survival. A stale first half, during
which Birmingham could have won a penalty of their own when Jermaine Pennant went down in the box, came to life when Matthew Upson was adjudged to
have blocked Tom Soares' run into the penalty area. A spot-kick was awarded and although Johnson converted, the kick had to be retaken due to
encroachment. Johnson kept his cool second time around and put Iain Dowie's side a goal up before the break. And Johnson got his third of the season
against his former employers when another penalty was awarded. Again it was Upson who conceded the kick but this time it was Johnson who dubiously
fell to the floor, the player getting up and scoring past Maik Taylor once again.
In the London derby at White Hart Lane, neither Tottenham nor Fulham were able to break the deadlock until Fredi Kanoute provided the cutting edge
which had been missing with a beautiful free-kick which left Edwin van der Sar with no chance of saving. Substitute Robbie Keane scored a second in
added time to compound Fulham's misery.