Tue, Jan 25, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Gunners secure much-needed victory

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Chelsea has 61 points from 24 games in the Premier League, while Arsenal has 51 and Manchester United has 50 as they fight to stay within range

AP , LONDONAP, GLASGOWAP, FRANKFURTAP, MADRIDAP, ROMEAP, LISBON

Arsenal's Jose Antonio Reyes, left, vies for the ball with Newcastle's Jermaine Jenas at Highbury Stadium in London on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Veteran striker Dennis Bergkamp fired Arsenal to a 1-0 victory over Newcastle on Sunday as the defending champion jumped back into second place, 10 points behind runaway leader Chelsea.

The Gunners had slipped down to third after Manchester United's 3-1 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday when Chelsea went 11 points clear by beating Portsmouth 3-0.

But Bergkamp's 19th minute strike maintained Arsenal's slim hope of holding on to its title although the Gunners should have scored at least three more and were kept at bay by Magpies' goalkeeper Shay Given.

Chelsea has 61 points from 24 games, Arsenal has 51 and Manchester United 50.

"If Shay Given had not been there it would have been more," said striker Thierry Henry who missed a hat-trick of chances. "But we won and that's the most important thing."

The Gunners almost went ahead in the opening minute, Mathieu Flamini's close range shot being cleared off the line. But the Arsenal fans didn't have to wait long for the lead.

Bergkamp collected a cross from Flamini, expertly controlled the ball and fended off a defender before pushing the ball past Shay Given for his first goal since August.

Two minutes later Given pushed a shot from Henry round the post as Arsene Wenger's men dictated the game.

Sixteen minutes into the second half, Henry ran clear to take a pass from Vieira and beat Given with his shot only for the ball to hit the post and bounce back into the keeper's arms. Two minutes later, Pires should have added the second but Given dived to block his close range shot.

Henry and Ashley Cole both missed easy chances before Given made another reflex-action save to deny the Frenchman. Newcastle created few chances although Lee Bowyer shot straight at goalkeeper Manuel Almunia near the end.

Manchester United scored a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford with strikes by Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha and Paul Scholes to stay 11 points behind the Blues.

Everton stayed fourth despite a 1-0 loss at home to Charlton and fifth place Liverpool went down 2-0 at next-to-last Southampton in one of four big performances by the struggling teams.

Last place West Bromwich Albion won for only the second time this season in the league, 2-0 against Manchester City, and Crystal Palace stayed third from last by outplaying Tottenham 3-0.

Thanks to Saints' victory over Liverpool, Norwich dropped to next-to-last place but still scored three goals in the last 10 minutes at home to Middlesbrough to salvage a thrilling 4-4 tie at Carrow Road.

Glasgow Rangers struck twice in the first 16 minutes for a 2-1 victory at Aberdeen to trim Celtic's lead to three points in the Scottish title race.

Croatian striker Dado Prso fired the 'Gers ahead in the ninth minute from a pass by Bojan Djordjic at Pittodrie before Alex McLeish's team doubled its lead with an own goal in the 16th.

Aberdeen goalkeeper Ryan Esson struggled to reach a corner by Fernando Ricksen and could only deflect the ball towards his own goal and it went into the net off defender Kevin McNaughton.

Darren Mackie replied three minutes later for Aberdeen's first league goal in five games but Rangers held on for three more points. Celtic leads with 59 from 23, Rangers have 56 and third place Hibernian is well out of title contention with 43. Aberdeen remained fourth with 36.

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