Tue, Jan 24, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Devils shut down the Reds as Celtic rules

AP , LONDONAP, GLASGOWAP, MADRIDAP, ROME

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, right, goes up with Steven Gerrard of Liverpool during their match in Manchester, England, on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Rio Ferdinand headed in a last-minute goal on Sunday to give Manchester United a 1-0 win over visiting Liverpool in the English Premier League.

The win kept Manchester United in second place. Leader Chelsea was held to a 1-1 draw by Charlton, the first time this season the defending champions have failed to win a game at Stamford Bridge.

Eidur Gudjohnsen's 19th-minute strike was answered by a second-half header from striker Marcus Bent, denying Chelsea victory for the third time in a total 23 league matches this season. Chelsea finished with 10 men after Ricardo Carvalho was sent off in the 81st.

Chelsea has 62 points and Manchester United has 48. Liverpool is third with 44 points but has two extra games to play.

"When you win so late on it's a great feeling," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Liverpool are a very difficult side to play against, a very powerful side.

"It was a very tight game, about two chances in the whole match. It's such an important fixture that you have to expect that," Ferguson added.

At Old Trafford, a competitive match didn't mean shots on goal. In the first half, neither side challenged the goalkeepers.

In the second half, Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar punched clear Peter Crouch's shot, while United striker Louis Saha shot over the bar.

Ferdinand had to scramble to stop his own clearance from going into Manchester United's goal and Liverpool missed its best chance when Djibril Cisse kicked a rebound off van der Sar over the bar from close range.

Ferdinand scored in by heading in a free kick from Ryan Giggs. Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina got a hand to the ball but couldn't stop it hitting the back of the net.

"We lost a game we were controlling, we have to think about that. It was the last minute, so it was a disappointing day," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. "It's always difficult to lose in the last minute. We know we have two games in hand, we know it's a long way and we have to keep going."

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea led after a goal-mouth scramble. Charlton goalkeeper Thomas Myhre spilled Hernan Crespo's header and Gudjohnsen volleyed the rebound into the net. Although defender Radostin Kishishev cleared the ball without it having touched the ground, the referee ruled the ball had crossed the line.

Charlton leveled in the 59th, when Bent, who joined this week from Everton, headed Darren Ambrose's long ball over Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Celtic increased its lead in the Scottish Premier League to 10 points after beating Motherwell 3-1.

Maciej Zurawski scored the first goal for Celtic in the 17th minute, but Jim Hamilton leveled for Motherwell in the 41st with a left-footed volley.

Celtic rallied in the second half, and Aiden McGeady and John Hartson scored a goal each. Celtic is 10 points ahead of Hearts and 17 points in front of defending champion Rangers, which is in fourth place.

Celtic fielded a new defensive lineup of Stanislav Varga, Adam Virgo and Mo Camara because of injury, suspension and international duty.

"The defense was fantastic, absolutely fantastic and Adam and Stanislav give me food for thought," Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said. "I don't think Adam made a mistake the whole game."

It was Virgo's second start for Celtic since his transfer from English club Brighton in the offseason.

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