Mon, Feb 28, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Rooney saves Manchester United

AP , LONDON

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney after scoring against Portsmouth during their match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England on Saturday. The Red Devils won 2-1.

PHOTO: EPA

Wayne Rooney saved Manchester United.

The 19-year-old England striker scored early for United, and then notched the winner in the 81st minute in Saturday's 2-1 victory over Portsmouth at Old Trafford.

The victory helped Manchester United recover from a midweek loss to AC Milan in the Champions League, and pulled the Red Devils within six points of league-leading Chelsea.

"He was fantastic," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I thought he was by far our best player. He's a winner. The whole day he was on song."

Third-place Arsenal failed to bounce back from its Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, settling for a 1-1 draw at relegation-bound Southampton. Saints forward Peter Crouch, who is 2m, scored the equalizer on a header in the 67th.

In another Premier League match, Everton solidified its hold on fourth place -- the final Champions League spot -- with a 3-1 victory at Aston Villa. Leon Osman scored twice and Tim Cahill added the other for the Toffees.

Andrew Johnson converted two penalties to lead Crystal Palace over Birmingham City 2-0, and Frederic Kanoute and Robbie Keane scored in Tottenham's 2-0 win against Fulham.

Chelsea leads the Premier League with 68 points, followed by Manchester United with 62, Arsenal with 58, Everton with 51 and Liverpool with 43. West Brom is in last place with only 18 points, behind Norwich with 20 and Southampton on 21.

Scott Brown and Garry O'Connor scored a goal each in Hibernian's 2-0 victory over St. Mirren, advancing Hibs into the Scottish Cup semifinals.

Rangers lead the Premier League with 68 points, with Celtic on 62.

Last-place Numancia took advantage of an icy home field to hold league leader FC Barcelona to a 1-1 draw, while second-place Real Madrid lost 2-0 to Deportivo La Coruna.

Barcelona, which hasn't won a league title since 1999, got a 47th-minute equalizer from Rafael Marquez. Numancia forward Juanlu Gomez scored the first goal just before halftime with an overhead kick.

Sebastian Deisler scored the winning goal Saturday to give Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over Freiburg and lift the team into a three-point lead in the Bundesliga.

Deisler answered his critics by faking a defender and firing a low shot from the edge of the area in the 52nd minute to secure Bayern's routine victory over the next-to-last team in the league.

The talented but often injured midfielder made his first start in 15 games. Earlier in the week, Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer suggested that Deisler might be better off looking for a new club if he couldn't earn more playing time.

"The goal will be good for his confidence," coach Felix Magath said. "He wants to become a starter again and he's on the right way."

Bayern has 47 points after 23 rounds. Schalke could pull even on points if it beats Hannover on Sunday, but Bayern will likely stay first on goal difference.

In other top matches, defending champion Werder Bremen confirmed its third place by crushing struggling Bochum 4-0, and 10-man Hertha Berlin defeated Hamburger SV 4-1 to move into fourth.

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