Man United close in on title
United come from two goals down to beat Everton, while Chelsea are held by Bolton.
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2007 18:27 GMT

Wayne Rooney, right, slots home past Everton's Alan Stubbs, left, to put his side ahead [AFP]

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager, promised he would treat Bolton manager Sam Allardyce to a hug and a kiss after the Wanderers held Chelsea to a draw that leaves United on the verge of reclaiming the Premiership title.
After watching his side come from two goals down to beat Everton 4-2 and pull five points clear at the top of the table, Ferguson acknowledged that Allardyce's team had done him a huge favour by holding defending champions Chelsea to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.

"Sam will be getting a hug and a kiss," Ferguson said with a smile.

"Maybe two kisses!"

The results mean that United, thanks to their superior goal difference, need to take just four points from their remaining three games to secure the title, and may have it wrapped up before they travel to Stamford Bridge for their penultimate match of the season on May 9.

If United beat local rivals Manchester City next Saturday and Chelsea fail to beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium the following day, the Red Devils will be crowned English Premier League champions for the first time since 2003.

"Obviously the momentum is with us now," Ferguson said.

"Five points clear and with a superior goal difference gives us a marvellous chance with three games left."

The United boss was wary of the Saturday lunchtime trip to City, which will come in the wake of a tough trip to Italy for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against AC Milan.

"We know what that can do to the players.

"It will be very difficult and we can't count any chickens yet. But there is marvellous spirit in the camp and I think that is going to play for us."

Everton blow lead

Rooney, who moved to United from Everton,
checks which team he plays for [AFP]

United had looked doomed at Goodison Park when midfielder Manuel Fernandes smashed an unstoppable 25-yard bullet past Edwin van der Sar, five minutes after half-time, to double the lead established by Alan Stubbs' first-half free-kick.

However a howling error by Iain Turner, Everton's stand-in goalkeeper, allowed United back into the contest.

The Scot, only playing because Tim Howard was prevented from doing so under the terms of his season-long loan from United, dropped a cross to leave John O'Shea with a simple finish.

"That was a break for us," admitted Ferguson, who reacted to the goal by gambling on the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo, despite his star winger carrying a minor injury.

The Portuguese winger had an immediate impact, rising to meet a corner with a powerful downward header that former United player Phil Neville sliced into his own net.

That set the stage for Wayne Rooney to effectively settle the contest with 11 minutes left and, with news of the Chelsea result filtering through, substitute Chris Eagles curled in United's fourth.

Chelsea trip up

Chelsea's Frank Lampard knows that his side's
title defence is now looking grim [AFP]
At Stamford Bridge, Bolton took the lead after the Chelsea defence failed to deal with a 19th-minute corner, with the ball falling to Lubomir Michalik, who hit the target from close range.

The champions were level within three minutes though, with Salomon Kalou heading in a Wayne Bridge cross, before they took the lead when a Kalou header ricocheted off the bar, a Bolton defender, and finally goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen before ending up in the back of the net.

Bolton refused to give up however and, nine minutes after the break, Kevin Davies grabbed an equaliser with a close-range header and Sam Allardyce's side held out for a draw under the inevitable late barrage from Jose Mourinho's men.

"The title race is almost over but almost is a big word," Mourinho said.

"It is not over because mathematically there is a chance.

"When the chance is there, we have to believe. But it is almost lost, almost," the Chelsea manager added.

"They have to lose two games and we have to win all three. They are very close."

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