Thu, May 04, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Blackburn downs Chelsea


Blackburn Rovers' Florent Sinama Pongolle, top, is tackled by Chelsea's Eidur Gudjohnsen during their match at Ewood Park in Blackburn, England, on Tuesday.


Steven Reid turned home a free kick from Robbie Savage and Blackburn edged newly crowned Premier League champion Chelsea 1-0 on Tuesday to guarantee a UEFA Cup spot next season.

The only goal of the game came two minutes before halftime at Ewood Park as Mark Hughes' team moved within a point of fifth-place Arsenal and became only the fourth club to have beaten Jose Mourinho's team in league action this season.

Rovers joined Manchester United, Fulham and Middlesbrough -- and Manchester City in October 2004 -- as clubs to have defeated the Blues in the Premier League in their last 75 games.

With Chelsea having captured its second Premier League title in a row by beating Manchester United 3-0 on Saturday, Mourinho rested seven of his regulars at Ewood Park and the Blues made little impact in the first half.

Two minutes before halftime, Savage curled in a free kick from the left flank and the ball got the slightest of touches off Reid's head and went inside the far post.

Chelsea replied strongly in the second half and Rovers' American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, made a top quality, reflex save to thwart a first-time shot from Eidur Gudjohnsen and then flicked a long range shot from substitute Joe Cole over the bar.

Chelsea players angrily sought a penalty when Hernan Crespo was felled inside the area with 10 minutes to go.

Krys Boyd scored two goals and Rangers won 2-1 at Hibernian to maintain their slim chances of capturing a place in next season's European Champions League.

With Celtic already crowned champion, Hearts is in second, one point ahead of Rangers having played one less game. Hearts can clinch second with a victory against Aberdeen on Wednesday, limiting Rangers -- last season's champion -- to third at best and a place in the UEFA Cup.

Boyd gave Rangers a 36th-minute lead at Easter Road but Hibs equalized in the 72nd when Brahim Hemdani deflected home a shot from Derek Riordan.

Hibernian stayed level for only two minutes, however, before Boyd took a pass from Croatian striker Dado Prso to score what proved to be the winner.

Celtic has 87 points from 36 games, Hearts have 71 from 36 and Rangers 70 from 37.

In Tuesday's other game, Dunfermline won 1-0 at Dundee United thanks to Freddy Daquin's strike with 12 minutes remaining.

Hamburg beat Cologne 1-0 on an early own-goal and retained its dwindling hopes of overtaking Bayern Munich for the league title.

The win pulled Hamburg within two points of Bayern, which was to play its 32nd-round match at home against Stuttgart yesterday. Two games remain in the season after the midweek round.

In other games on Tuesday, Bayern Leverkusen won 5-1 at Hertha Berlin, Borussia Dortmund rallied to defeat Hannover 2-1 and Nuremberg crushed Borussia Moenchengladbach 5-2.

Wolverhampton Wanderers will keep manager Glenn Hoddle next season despite the club's failure to win promotion to the Premier League.

The former England manager met with the club's board on Tuesday to explain the team's disappointing performance and how he would address it next season. Despite speculation that he would be fired, the board announced its decision to keep Hoddle yesterday.

Wolves, in its first full season under Hoddle, was never a contender for automatic promotion from the League Championship and finished seventh in the standings, one place and eight points from reaching the end-of-season playoffs.

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