Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Liverpool close in on Chelsea

DIZZY HEIGHTS Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch scored the goals that took the Reds to within two points of second place and condemned West Ham to yet another defeat

AP , LONDON AND FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Carlton Cole, left, of West Ham and Steve Finnan of Liverpool battle for the ball during their English Premiership clash at Upton Park stadium in east London on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Liverpool increased West Ham's relegation worries with a 2-0 win in the English Premier League on Tuesday.

Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch scored at Upton Park to move to 49 points -- eight points behind league leader Manchester United and two points back from Chelsea, who both played last night.

West Ham stayed in 17th place with 20 points.

Kuyt took a cross from Peter Crouch and sent the ball in off the crossbar in the 46th minute for the Dutchman's 10th goal of the season. Crouch made it 2-0 in the 53rd with a long-range strike into the top corner.

"It was a fantastic play from all the team," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said of Crouch's strike. "We practice things like that in every training session and tonight it was a perfect finish. We have confidence at the moment."

Blanco Kepa pulled back a goal for West Ham on his club debut in the 77th. Kepa joined West Ham on loan from Spanish club Sevilla last week.

When asked if Liverpool could overhaul Man United and Chelsea, Crouch said: "It's going to be difficult. But we've said before we've got to keep this run going and hope the top two slip up."

Also on Tuesday, it was: Reading 3, Wigan 2; Sheffield United 2, Fulham 0; and Portsmouth 0, Middlesbrough 0.

Reading rally

Reading rallied to its win over Wigan. Former England forward Emile Heskey had beaten the offside trap to score the opener for Wigan in the third minute.

Reading leveled in the 31st with a header from Ivar Ingimarsson, and Shane Long headed the home side into the lead in the 51st. Leroy Lita scored Reading's third goal in the 88th minute.

Denny Landzaat scored a consolation goal for Wigan in the 90th.

Sheffield United took the lead in the 23rd minute, with Jonathan Stead scoring his first goal since joining the club from League Championship side Sunderland this month.

Michael Tonge made it 2-0 five minutes later with his first Premier League goal. Tonge scored from 6m past Fulham goalkeeper Antti Niemi, who was playing his first match since falling on his head against Watford on Jan. 1.

Middlesbrough extended its unbeaten streak to seven games in all competitions, but still hasn't beaten Portsmouth in the Premier League in eight attempts.

Bochum hold Bayern

Defending champion Bayern Munich suffered its second straight setback in a 0-0 draw at home against lowly Bochum and dropped one spot in the Bundesliga standings on Tuesday.

Beaten 3-2 at Dortmund on Friday, Bayern stood to lose more ground when the 19th round was completed yesterday.

Leader Werder Bremen played Bayer Leverkusen and second-placed Schalke hosted Alemannia Aachen.

Bremen and Schalke both have 39 points, while Bayern has 34.

Stuttgart beat Arminia Bielefeld 3-2 to move past Bayern into third place with 35 points.

In other games, Borussia Moenchengladbach remained winless in 12 games after drawing 0-0 at home with Nuremberg, while Eintracht Frankfurt clinched a 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg.

Few Chances

Bayern had few chances against a well-organized Bochum that is only one place above the relegation zone, and Felix Magath's team was booed off the field by a crowd of 62,000 at the Allianz Arena.

Mario Gomez scored twice for Stuttgart, which bounced back from a 4-1 loss at Nuremberg over the weekend.

Gomez's header off a cross from Cacau put Stuttgart ahead after nine minutes, but Christian Eigler tied the score in the 26th.

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