United drop points at Sunderland

Nil-nil draw puts Chelsea in the driving seat while Spurs come from behind to beat Villa and Everton finally win.

    United's new signing Bebe, left, competes with Red Devils old boy Phil Bardsley [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Manchester United's faltering away form continued to blight their English Premier League title challenge as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Sunderland.

    The match started 20 minutes late after a burst pipe damaged the visitors' dressing room but there was nothing so destructive about the United attack, as a well-disciplined home defence held them to a fourth successive away draw in the league this season.

    Chelsea, who play Arsenal on Sunday, stay top with 15 points, followed by United on 13 and Arsenal on 11.

    Rafael van der Vaart's week continued where it had left off in midweek when he scored both goals as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Saturday.

    Villa took the lead at White Hart Lane when Marc Albrighton tapped in at the far post, but Spurs came back when Van der Vaart headed them level in stoppage time at the end of the first half and the Dutchman put them ahead with a well-taken strike 15 minutes from time.

    His performance followed his adventures on Wednesday when he missed a penalty, scored a goal and got sent off in Spurs' European Champions League win over Twente Enschede.

    Off the bottom

    Everton, the only one of the 92 League clubs without a win before kick-off, ended that unwanted record when they climbed off the bottom of the table after beating Birmingham City 2-0 at St Andrews.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday October 2

     Birmingham 0-2 Everton
     Stoke City 1-0 Blackburn
     Sunderland 0-0 Man Utd
     Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa
     West Brom 1-1 Bolton
     West Ham 1-1 Fulham
     Wigan Athletic 2-0 Wolves

    Sunday October 3

    Man City v Newcastle
     Liverpool v Blackpool
     Chelsea v Arsenal

    Roger Johnson put through his own net after 54 minutes and Tim Cahill added the second with a header after 90 minutes as Birmingham lost at home in the league for the first time since September last year.

    That victory lifted Everton off the bottom of the table into 17th place – sending their arch-rivals Liverpool into the relegation zone at least until they play Blackpool on Sunday.

    Fulham's Clint Dempsey, who caused England goalkeeper Robert Green huge embarrassment when he scored a soft goal against him for the United States in the World Cup, beat him again after 33 minutes when he scored against West Ham United at Upton Park – but this time Green had no chance of saving.

    Dempsey controlled the ball with his chest before firing home from 12 yards. Frank Piquionne equalised for the Hammers early in the second half and the match ended 1-1.

    As well as Chelsea playing Arsenal and Liverpool facing Blackpool, Manchester City host Newcastle United.

    The early kickoff on Saturday saw Jordi Gomez and Hugo Rodallega score in the second half to lift Wigan out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    Gomez put the hosts ahead with a 65th-minute free kick that went in off the underside of the crossbar and Rodallega deflected in the second in the 85th.


    A fourth straight league loss for Wolves came after having captain Karl Henry sent off after 11 minutes for a reckless challenge on Gomez, sending the Spaniard flying after crunching him in the shins.

    "No arguments with the sending off," Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said.

    "It's a bad decision (by Henry).

    "It's just sad for Karl, he's not that way inclined with regard to kicking people. It's a deserved red card."

    Sunderland, who have now drawn their last four league games, went closest to scoring at the Stadium of Light when Boudewijn Zenden hit the post in the first half.

    United have now dropped eight points away from home in their opening four matches on their travels, but United manager Alex Ferguson said he was happy to leave with a point.

    "I think you have to give credit to Sunderland, their home record this season has been fantastic," he told Sky Sports.

    "The most important thing for us to do was not lose a goal because that's the area we've been weak in away games this season."

    He said the incident before the match, when part of the roof of the visitors' dressing room collapsed, was not an issue.

    "It was one those accidents. The staff at Sunderland were fantastic. It did not disturb our build-up to the match very much."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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