United go top as Spurs pay penalty
Ryan Giggs scored two penalties as reigning champions Manchester United returned to the top of the English Premier League with a 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Victory moved United two points in front of Chelsea with two games to play as they once again scored important late goals, this time in a match which was all square at 1-1 with 10 minutes left. However, Chelsea will regain top spot in the Premier League if they win at home to Stoke City on Sunday.
United's joy was tempered by fears England striker Wayne Rooney, who sat out this match, may miss the end of the season with a groin injury. "I think it will probably take two or three weeks to be honest with you," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The first of Giggs's penalties, awarded after Patrice Evra was brought down in the box by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, gave United the lead in the 58th minute.But Tottenham, fresh from wins over Arsenal and Chelsea, equalised in the 70th minute when injury-prone central defender Ledley King headed in a corner.
United, though, hit back when Portuguese ace Nani broke down the right and chipped goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. Veteran midfielder Giggs then sealed United's victory with his second spot-kick four minutes from time after Nani went down under a challenge from Wilson Palacios.
"We have beaten probably the form team of the league which says a lot for us. We can't ask for more," Ferguson said. "We played well, that was important, but most important was we kept our nerve."
Spurs stayed fourth in the table, and in the final Champions League qualifying spot on offer to English clubs, after arch-rivals Arsenal did them a favour by holding Manchester City to a goalless draw at the Emirates in Saturday's late kick-off.
City closed to within a point of Spurs but will be without Shay Given for the rest of the season after the Irish goalkeeper dislocated his shoulder while making a save. "Shay's injury will be a problem," City manager Roberto Mancini told the club's official website. "It's not good for us because Shay is a fantastic goalkeeper. He is important to us, but in football you can always get injured."
Good news for Hammers, bad for Hull
At the other end of the table, West Ham moved six points clear of the relegation zone with a come from behind 3-2 win at home to Wigan. The Hammers were 1-0 down in just the fourth minute after Jonathan Spector's own-goal but were back on level terms when in-form striker Araujo Ilan turned in Carlton Cole's cross in the 31st minute.
And the east Londoners took the lead when Radoslav Kovac followed-up on the stroke of half-time after Mark Noble's 25-yard free-kick was clawed away by Chris Kirkland. Wigan saw Hugo Rodallega equalise from an early second half corner. However, Scott Parker eased the pressure on Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola with a 25-yard drive in the 77th minute.
Hull moved closer to the drop after Sunderland won 1-0 at the KC Stadium thanks to Darren Bent's seventh minute tap-in, his 25th goal of the season. Hull, six points adrift with two games to play and a massively inferior goal difference, could have equalised before half-time but Jimmy Bullard's penalty hit the post. Both sides received a red card late in the first half after Hull's US striker Jozy Altidore and Sunderland's Alan Hutton clashed.
Aruna Dindane scored twice as already relegated Portsmouth came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 away to Bolton Wanderers. The hosts, all but assured of Premier League football next season, scored twice in three first half minutes through Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies before Dindane struck after the break for the FA Cup finalists.
Blackburn Rovers and Wolves, still not mathematically safe, drew 1-1 at Molineux after New Zealand international Ryan Nelsen's first half goal for the visitors was cancelled out by Wolves striker Slyvan Ebanks-Blake's effort nine minutes from time.
Sunday's other matches will see Aston Villa continue their push for Champions League football in a derby against Birmingham City while second-bottom Burnley have a daunting test at home to Liverpool and Everton face Fulham.