Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Reyes destroys Man City

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Sub Jose Antonio Reyes scored twice and Arsenal grabbed its second win in three days


Manchester City's David Sommeil, back, challenges Arsenal's Jose Reyes during their match at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, on Thursday. Reyes scored twice as Arsenal defeated Manchester City 3-1.


Arsenal defeated Manchester City 3-1 thanks to two goals in six minutes by substitute Jose Antonio Reyes in the English Premier League on Thursday.

Arsenal's second win in three days ensured the race for fourth place in the standings -- and the last Champions League berth -- was wide open going into tomorrow's final round.

Tottenham has 65 points and Arsenal 64. Tottenham goes to London neighbor West Ham and Arsenal plays at home at Highbury against Wigan. The game will be the last at Highbury, with the Gunners moving to their new 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium next season.

Arsenal welcomed back England fullback Ashley Cole after seven months out with a broken foot. He played all 90 minutes, and he and manager Arsene Wenger were relieved. Wenger wanted to see how Cole recovered before deciding whether he would play on Sunday and figure in the Champions League final on May 17 against FC Barcelona.

"I am happy to be playing now," Cole said. "I hope I can take my chance, be fit for Sunday and the Champions League final -- but I'm not thinking about the Champions League final."

Wenger had more ultimately in mind for Cole -- selection for the World Cup.

"The positives are he's not injured and Ashley got better and better during the game," the manager said. "Of course he is not at the top of his game yet as it was his first full match in a while.

"The good thing though is he is available and he can play. For England that is just right. We are at the beginning of May and the competition begins on June 10th. In five weeks you should see a perfect Ashley Cole."

Arsenal took a 1-0 lead after 29 minutes through Fred Ljungberg -- his first of the season -- off a pass from Thierry Henry. City equalized late in the first half on a goal by David Sommeil. Reyes scored his pair in the last 12 minutes.

If Arsenal fails to finish fourth in the Premier League, the Gunners can still make next year's Champions League by winning the final in Paris. That would knock Tottenham out of the Champions League.

In Thursday's other Premier League game, Sunderland won its first home league game of the season, beating Fulham 2-1. Sunderland has already been relegated next season to the League Championship, the level below the Premier League.

Chelsea has the title, and West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Birmingham are going down.

With one round of Premier League games to go, the title and relegation issues are all decided. Manchester United and Liverpool are battling for the runner-up spot.

Manchester United, which is one point ahead of Liverpool with a better goal difference, hosts Charlton tomorrow. Liverpool goes to Portsmouth, which avoided relegation and no longer needs the points.

Chelsea continues its title celebrations with a game at Newcastle, while tomorrow's other games are Arsenal-Wigan, Aston Villa-Sunderland, Blackburn-Manchester City, Bolton-Birmingham, Everton-West Brom, Fulham-Middlesbrough and West Ham-Tottenham

But who will come up to the top flight along with already promoted Reading and Sheffield United?

Four teams -- Watford, Preston, Leeds and Crystal Palace -- are in the running for the Football League Championship playoff spot. The sequence of games was to begin with Leeds vs. Preston at Elland Road, followed by Crystal Palace-Watford today.

Preston and Leeds play the return leg on Monday, while Watford hosts Palace on Tuesday. The winners of each matchup will face each other at the Millennium Stadium on May 21.

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