Mon, Apr 12, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Chelsea now struggles for second place

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL A scoreless draw against Middlesbrough won't help the Blues in their desire to finish No. 2 in the league

AP , LONDON, GLASGOW, MADRID, BERLIN, ROME, PARIS AND LISBON

Chelsea's Geremi, center, vies for the ball with Middlesbrough's Massimo MacCarone, left, during their match at Stamford Bridge in London, Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri has conceded the Premier League title to Arsenal.

Chelsea's chances slipped badly in a scoreless draw against Middlesbrough on Saturday at Stamford Bridge. The loss came a day after Arsenal rallied to beat Liverpool 4-2.

"They [Arsenal] have great character and they deserve this title," Ranieri said. "Well done Arsenal."

The race is now for second, and here No. 2 Chelsea also lost ground to third-place Manchester United. The Reds came from behind to win 2-1 at Birmingham City with second-half goals from Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo and Frenchman Louis Saha.

Chelsea trails Arsenal by six points, but leads Man United by six.

SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Hibernian and Partick picked up victories. In the semifinals of the Scottish Cup, Inverness and Dunfermline drew 1-1.

Gary Caldwell, Kevin Thomson and Derek Riordan scored in Hibs's 3-0 victory over Kilmarnock.

In Partick's 1-0 win over Hearts, Andy Thomson got the decider in the 49th. The victory ended Hearts' 11-game unbeaten string.

Paul Ritchie gave Inverness a 1-0 lead with a goal in first-half injury time, but Craig Brewster equalized for Dunfermline in the 67th.

SPANISH LEAGUE

Brazil striker Ronaldinho scored one goal before being sent off as FC Barcelona moved with striking distance of the leaders by beating Valladolid 3-1.

Javier Saviola and Andres Iniesta also scored for the Catalan club, which is unbeaten in 11 league matches. Oscar Gonzalez got one back for the hosts.

Ronaldinho was ejected in the 53rd minute after getting his second yellow card for heading the ball out of Valladolid goalkeeper Albano Bizarri's right hand.

The win pushed Barcelona into third place with a game in hand and 59 points, three more than fourth-place Deportivo de La Coruna, which plays Sunday. Real Madrid is still in first place with 67 points, followed by Valencia with 66.

Saviola got Barcelona on the scoreboard in just the second minute off a cross from Dutchman Michael Reiziger. The Argentine then set up Ronaldinho's goal in the 31st minute with a cross from the left that the Brazilian volleyed home.

After Ronaldinho was ejected, Valladolid took advantage of the numerical advantage as Oscar rose above the defense to head the ball into the net from a corner in the 66th.

Barcelona held its nerve, however, and Iniesta buried his first goal of the season five minutes from time.

Valladolid, which was missing suspended Spain international midfielder Jose Caminero, needed a win to lift itself out of the relegation zone.

Bundesliga

Werder Bremen moved a step closer to the league title, but only after a late and controversial penalty helped the club edge Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0.

Defender Ivo Ismael stroked the penalty inside the right post in the 80th minute against relegation-threatened Frankfurt, saving Bremen's shaky performance and keeping his club seven points clear in the table.

Bayern Munich, still waiting for Bremen to stumble, got two more goals from prolific Dutch striker Roy Makaay to win 2-1 against Schalke, a team that entered fifth in the table.

With just six rounds to play, time is running out on Bayern's hopes of a 19th German title, but the club still insists Bremen has a case of nerves.

"Of course they're feeling the pressure," Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said. "They're not playing nearly as well as they did, they have tough matches ahead and Bayern is a team that can win all its games."

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