Gunners title tilt falters again

Arsenal drop more points as Portsmouth reach the FA Cup final.

    Arsene Wenger: Down and nearly out [GALLO/GETTY]

    Arsenal rallied to a 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the English Premier League, three days after the two teams played to the same result in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.

    Nicklas Bendtner levelled for Arsenal in the 54th minute after Peter Crouch put Liverpool ahead in the 42nd.

    The result doesn't help either club in the title race, Arsenal now has 71 points for third place, three less than second-place Chelsea, which beat Manchester City 2-0.

    League leader Manchester United has 76 points ahead of its match at Middlesbrough on Sunday.

    Liverpool stays in fourth place with 63 points.

    "In my brain it is not over, because it is not over mathematically,'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

    "It depends on the results of the other teams. I said we would need at least five wins and a draw.''

    Also Saturday, it was: Aston Villa 4, Bolton 0; Blackburn 1, Tottenham 1; Fulham 1, Sunderland 3; Newcastle 3, Reading 0; and Wigan 2, Birmingham 0.

    Pompey reach final

    Portsmouth reached its first FA Cup final since 1939 with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the semifinal match at Wembley.

    A Portsmouth fans will be returning
    to Wembley [GALLO/GETTY]

    Nwankwo Kanu scored the only goal against his former club in the 54th minute.

    West Brom goalkeeper Dean Kiely did well to block the first shot from Milan Baros, Zoltan Gera tried to clear the ball off the line but it rolled to Kanu who stabbed it home from five metres.

    The Gunners knocked Liverpool out of the League Cup and FA Cup last season with victories at Anfield and the two clubs meet again at Anfield on Tuesday in the second leg of the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

    Liverpool dominated the first half at Emirates, with Crouch regularly troubling the Arsenal defense, forcing goalkeeper Manuel Almunia to jump and punch away a shot in the third minute.

    In the 17th, Liverpool defender John Arne Riise shot over the bar before Crouch put Liverpool ahead.

    Yossi Benayoun flicked on a long goalkick from his own goalkeeper Pepe Reina to Crouch, who scored with a low shot from the edge of the box.

    Arsenal's best first-half chance came in the 34th when Bendtner sent a tame shot straight at Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

    In the second half, Kolo Toure headed wide, two minutes before Bendtner outjumped Crouch to head the equaliser.

    Shortly afterward, Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsenal's leading scorer, was sent on as a substitute for defender Justin Hoyte, adding to Arsenal's strikeforce which also included Theo Walcott.

    That gave Arsenal a more attacking edge and Mathieu Flamini had a 70th-minute shot saved by Pepe Reina.

    Liverpool reacted by sending on Steven Gerrard in the 65th for midfielder Jermaine Pennant.

    Substitute Andriy Voronin had a shot blocked by Toure ten minutes later.

    Fernando Torres came on in the 80th and while he helped to set up Voronin and Gerrard for chances, neither side could score the winner.

    Portsmouth, the only Premier League club left in the FA Cup, will face a League Championship side in the May 17 final.

    The other semifinal is at Wembley on Sunday between Cardiff, the only club outside England to lift the trophy in 1927, and Barnsley, which beat Liverpool and Chelsea to reach the final four.

    Chelsea into second

    Manchester City, which has now won once in its last seven games, gifted Chelsea the lead after six minutes when Richard Dunne poked the ball into his own net.

    Chelsea made it 2-0 in the 53rd through Salomon Kalou.

    Chelsea left out striker Didier Drogba and defender Ricardo Carvalho, with one eye on the second leg of its Champions League quarterfinal against Fenerbahce on Tuesday. Chelsea lost the first leg 2-1.

    Newcastle won its third match in a row. Obafemi Martins put Newcastle ahead in the 18th minute, controlling a pass from Nicky Butt and rounding Andre Bikey before scoring past Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.

    Michael Owen made it 2-0 in the 43rd with his third goal in as many games and Mark Viduka finished the scoring in the 58th.

    Aston Villa ended a three-match losing streak with two goals from Gareth Barry and one each from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marlon Harewood.

    Barry put Villa ahead in the ninth minute with a header and also scored in the 60th.

    West Bromwich Albion's dream of an FA
    Cup final is over [GALLO/GETTY]

    His previous five goals this season had been from the penalty spot.

    Agbonlahor scored in the 56th for his first goal in 13 matches, and Harewood headed the third in the 85th.

    The loss means Bolton is still in the relegation zone, in 18th place with 26 points, four behind 17th-place Birmingham.

    Fulham get sinking feeling

    Fulham also moved closer to relegation with a 3-1 loss to visiting Sunderland.

    Danny Collins, Michael Chopra and Kenwyne Jones all scored for the Black Cats.

    Fulham pulled a goal back from David Healy but is still in 19th place with 24 points, seven points from safety.

    Tottenham went ahead in the seventh minute through Dimitar Berbatov, who scored from close range.

    Blackburn leveled in the 30th, with David Bentley setting up Morten Gamst Pedersen to score.

    Wigan won with two goals from Ryan Taylor, in the 15th and 55th minutes.

    Wigan played with an extra man when Birmingham's Damien Johnson was sent off in the 37th for serious foul play.

    On Sunday, Everton hosts Derby.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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