Mon, Jan 24, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Blues increase lead in league standings

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Portsmouth was steamrolled 3-0 by Cheasea, who raised its lead in the Premiership to 11 points with the win. Manchester United is second

AP , LONDONAP, GLASGOWAP, FRANKFURTAP, AMSTERDAM

Chelsea's Damien Duff, left, tries to move past Patrik Berger of Portsmouth during their match at Stamford Bridge in London on Saturday. The Blues won the match 3-0.

PHOTO: AFP

Chelsea romped to a 3-0 victory over Portsmouth on Saturday to open up an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League and move closer to its first league title for 50 years.

Didier Drogba scored twice and Arjen Robben added another in the first half at Stamford Bridge as Jose Mourinho's Blues increased their lead by a point.

Chelsea, which has 61 points from 24 games, holds an 11-point lead over Manchester United, which moved into second place by beating Aston Villa 3-1 at Old Trafford. Defending champion Arsenal hosts Newcastle on Sunday and hopes to regain second spot with a victory but now is 13 points behind Chelsea.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha and Paul Scholes scored Manchester United's goals against Villa, which had equalized through Gareth Barry.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson believes that, if the league title remains out of reach, his team can use its improved Premier League form to help it win other titles such as the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.

"We have to keep looking at Chelsea and obviously they're playing fantastically and there's no sign of any blips," said Ferguson, whose side has won nine of its last 11 Premier League games.

"But if we can maintain our form in the league, then it helps us in other games. I think we are in championship form but Chelsea have an 11 point lead and don't look like slipping at all.

"And credit to them, they've been great. We just keep chasing them."

Everton remained fourth despite losing 1-0 at home to Charlton with Matt Holland scoring the only goal at Goodison Park and Liverpool stayed fifth in spite of a 2-0 loss at relegation-threatened Southampton.

Down at the bottom, three of the last four won and the other, Norwich, hit back from 4-1 down to gain a 4-4 tie with high flying Middlesbrough.

Last place West Bromwich Albion gained only its second victory of the season and its best ever in the Premier League when it downed mid-standings Manchester City 2-0 at the Hawthorns. New signing Kevin Campbell scored his first for the club after just five minutes.

Goals by David Prutton and Peter Crouch revived Southampton's chances of avoiding relegation as Harry Redknapp's ailing side made it three losses in a row for Liverpool in one week.

The victory was Saints' first under Redknapp since he took over at St. Mary's six weeks ago and it moved his team further away from last-place West Bromwich Albion and closer to safety.

"Fantastic, a great performance," Redknapp said. "They showed a bit of bulldog spirit. But it's only a start. We've got a long, hard struggle ahead. It's going to be a battle to the end to stay in this division but that was big result for us today."

Norwich dropped to next to last despite hitting back from 4-1 down at home to Middlesbrough to salvage a 4-4 draw. Boro, which had fallen behind, appeared to be cruising after two rare goals by French defender Franck Queudrue and two more from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. But Dean Ashton, Leon McKenzie and Adam Drury hit back, the final two goals coming in the last two minutes.

"What a magnificent game," said Norwich manager Nigel Worthington. "At 4-1 down, really the game is over and finished. But the character and the determination [of the players] and even the crowd were absolutely magnificent. Maybe with another minute we could have won it 5-4."

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