Title race down to the wire

Man Utd respond to 2-0 Chelsea win over Liverpool with slender defeat of Sunderland.

    Lampard gets the second to put Chelsea on the brink of a first title in four years [GALLO/GETTY]

    A first-half strike from Nani ensured the English Premier League title race would go down to the last day as Manchester United beat Sunderland 1-0 in response to Chelsea's 2-0 stroll past Liverpool.

    Anything less than a win in Sunday's late match would have handed the championship to the Blues, who must now beat Wigan Athletic at home next week to be sure of their first crown since 2006.

    Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard got the goals as a lacklustre Liverpool side succumbed at Anfield with some help from a dreadful Steven Gerrard backpass.

    The defeat ends Liverpool's unlikely quest for the fourth European Champions League place amid speculation over the future of manager Rafael Benitez, who has been linked with a move to Juventus.

    Chelsea remain one point clear of United, who face Stoke City at Old Trafford on the last day.

    Liverpool captain Gerrard was the unlikely catalyst for Chelsea's win, hitting a tame backpass straight to Drogba who rounded Pepe Reina to slot into an empty net.

    In the second half Nicolas Anelka crossed for a sliding finish from Lampard as the Reds failed to produce a good chance on goal.

    "It was a very important step in our fight for the title, we played very well and deserved to win," Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, in his first season at the club after leaving AC Milan, told Sky Sports

    "We're very happy but we have to wait for the last game against Wigan."

    It was Chelsea's first league win at Anfield since 2005 and leaves them firmly on course for the League and FA Cup double. They face Portsmouth for that trophy on May 15.

    Lucky 13

    United, who had not lost to Sunderland in the league for 13 years, took a while to subdue them on Sunday before Nani drove in a nicely-angled shot after 28 minutes.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday May 1

     Birmingham 2-1 Burnley
     Man City 3-1 Aston Villa
     Portsmouth 3-1 Wolves
     Stoke City 0-0 Everton
     Tottenham 1-0 Bolton 

    Sunday May 2

     Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea
     Fulham 3-2 West Ham
     Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd

    Monday May 3

     Wigan Athletic v Hull City
     Blackburn v Arsenal

    Dimitar Berbatov disappointed again, missing two great chances, while Michael Carrick had a shot cleared off the line, leaving United to survive a nervy second half as Sunderland probed for an equaliser, although without really threatening to find one.

    "We missed an awful lot of chances, 1-0 is not a healthy score away from home," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.

    "They probably felt they were comfortable but we got there though, that's the important thing."

    Looking ahead to next Sunday and United's bid for an unprecedented fourth successive title he added: "All we can do is win our game in front of our fans.

    "Wigan will have a go and you never know what happens in football, it's a crazy game.

    "We are clutching straws a bit but the important thing is to win our game and enjoy it in front of our fans.

    "If it were to happen it would be an incredible achievement, I think it won't be done again, four in a row."

    In the other match, Europa League finalists Fulham beat West Ham United 3-2 at Craven Cottage.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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