Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Blues, Devils, Gunners win their league games

AP , LONDONAP, GLASGOWAP, MADRIDAP, BERLIN

Manchester United's Wes Brown, left, and teammate Wayne Rooney, right, challenge Fulham's Carlos Bocanegra during their English Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday. The Red Devils won the match 1-0.

PHOTO: AP

Chelsea edged closer to its first title in 50 years with a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, and Manchester United and Arsenal also won in the fight for second place.

Frank Lampard and Joe Cole scored a goal each for Chelsea, and substitute Mateja Kezman added two more at Stamford Bridge. Aki Riihilahti briefly leveled for Palace in the first half.

Robin van Persie scored for Arsenal in a 1-0 win at Blackburn, while Manchester United beat Fulham by the same score off a Cristiano Ronaldo strike.

Chelsea leads the league with 77 points, followed by United with 66 and Arsenal with 64.

"The league is looking beyond us," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. "But you have to keep going."

Newcastle couldn't continue its European form, drawing 1-1 with Portsmouth. Newcastle beat Olympiakos 4-0 on Thursday to advance to the UEFA Cup quarterfinals -- its eighth consecutive win.

Also, Manchester City lost 2-1 at Tottenham in the first match under caretaker manager Stuart Pearce, West Bromwich Albion won its first away match this season 4-1 at 10-man Charlton, and Bolton beat Norwich 1-0.

Robert Earnshaw scored a hat trick for West Brom, while Charlton played with 10 men for 61 minutes after Talal El Karkouri was sent off.

Bolton got a 42nd-minute goal from Greece international Stelios Giannakopoulos to jump into fifth place ahead of Liverpool.

Chelsea needs only 14 points from its eight remaining matches to win its first title since 1955. The Blues are also in the running for the Champions League.

"I'm just so excited," Cole said. "I can't stop looking at the fixture list and thinking if we win this game, this game and this game. But it's important to check yourself and just think about winning the next game."

Celtic went top of the Scottish Premier League with a 3-2 win over Dundee United off a Craig Bellamy hat trick.

Bellamy, who moved to Celtic in January on loan from Newcastle, twice put Celtic ahead in the first half, but Dundee United leveled through Jim McIntyre and Barry Robson.

Bellamy scored the winner with 10 minutes remaining.

"If Craig Bellamy wants to stay, then we will have to find the money to keep him," Celtic manager Martin O'Neill said. "I thought Bellamy's goals were really outstanding -- from an outstanding player."

In other matches, Hibernian took third place with a 4-1 win over Dunfermline, with Derek Riordan and Steven Fletcher both scoring twice.

Hearts beat Livingstone 3-1 off goals from Lee Miller, Mark Burchill and Robbie Neilson. Aberdeen and Dundee drew 1-1.

Celtic has 77 points, followed by Rangers with 75, Hibernian with 50 and Aberdeen with 49.

Rangers play Motherwell today for the Scottish League Cup.

Ludovic Giuly scored in the 10th minute, and FC Barcelona edged Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 to move closer to its first league title since 1999.

The 29th-round win at Deportivo's Riazor Stadium came despite the 52nd-minute ejection of defensive midfielder Rafael Marquez and stretched Barcelona's advantage over second-place Real Madrid to 14 points.

Madrid, which hosts Malaga on Sunday, has 10 matches remaining to bridge what looks like an unassailable gap.

"We shouldn't be talking about the title. We should be talking about how well we played. We gained three very important points," Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o told Cadena SER radio. "We shouldn't be doing calculations on our title chances out of respect for the other teams. We have to stay humble and keep working."

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