Mon, Dec 21, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Manchester United crash, City send Hughes packing

COTTAGE INDUSTRY United fell to lowly Fulham, while City boss Mark Hughes was replaced by former Inter coach Roberto Mancini despite his team’s win

AFP , LONDON

Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov takes a tumble during their Premier League against Fulham FC at Craven Cottage Stadium, in London on Saturday.

PHOTO: EPA

Fulham produced the latest twist in a see-saw Premier League title race with a shock 3-0 win over champions Manchester United at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Goals from Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff condemned injury-hit United to their fifth league loss of the season.

Meanwhile, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes was sacked, despite seeing his side defeat Sunderland 4-3 in an Eastlands thriller, and replaced by former Inter coach Roberto Mancini.

United’s defeat left Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, without several sidelined defenders, three points behind leaders Chelsea.

The Blues would extend their advantage to six points if they won away to relegation-threatened West Ham yesterday.

At Eastlands, Roque Santa Cruz gave Manchester City a fourth-minute lead against Sunderland before Carlos Tevez made it 2-0 from the penalty spot. The visitors hit back through a John Mensah header before Jordan Henderson tied the match up at 2-2 from 14 yards.

Craig Bellamy restored City’s lead with a curling shot, but Sunderland replied again through Kenwyne Jones’s 62nd-minute header, only for Santa Cruz to make it 4-3 seven minutes later.

Just before fulltime, Sunderland’s Michael Turner was sent off for leading with his elbow.

Then came the drama of Hughes’ departure, after City’s second win in 11 league games was not enough to keep the Welshman in his job, with the club’s billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour demanding a greater return on his £200 million US$325 million) player investment.

Arsenal stayed third after a 3-0 win over Hull in Saturday’s late kick-off, with Denilson, Eduardo and Abou Diaby on target at the Emirates Stadium, but Liverpool’s miserable season hit a new low as Javier Mascherano was sent-off in a 2-0 defeat away to bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth.

Fulham, who beat United 2-0 at home last season, took the lead in the 22nd minute at Craven Cottage when former Liverpool midfielder Murphy dispossessed Paul Scholes and let fly with a 25-yard shot.

United fielded a makeshift defence featuring midfielders Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, as well as youngster Ritchie de Laet.

Seconds into the second half, Fulham were 2-0 up after Zamora lashed in a half-volley. Zamora then set up Duff, who volleyed home 15 minutes from time.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa continued their push for a top-four spot with a 1-0 win at home to Stoke City thanks to a 61st-minute goal from substitute John Carew.

Tottenham Hotspur, fresh from their 3-0 midweek win over Manchester City, beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 with two goals from England striker Peter Crouch.

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