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Monday, April 27, 2009

Second-half rally keeps United on course for league title

LONDON (AP) Manchester United maintained its title charge Saturday by beating Tottenham 5-2 after a remarkable second-half comeback wiped out the visitors' two-goal advantage.

Darren Bent and Luka Modric put Spurs in control before halftime, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney each scored twice before Dimitar Berbatov grabbed a fifth to keep the defending champions three points clear at the top of the Premier League.

"It was a brilliant comeback — the first half we played too slowly and Tottenham caused us problems on the right hand side," Rooney said. "Now we're obviously in a great position."

Spurs were furious that Ronaldo was able to start the fightback from the penalty spot in the 57th. Goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was penalized for hauling down Michael Carrick, despite protests that he touched the ball first.

"I think we were a bit fortunate," said United manager Alex Ferguson, who pointed out that Spurs manager Harry Redknapp won at Old Trafford with Portsmouth last season after a contentious penalty.

The 17-time English champions have a game in hand over Liverpool, which won 3-1 at 10-man Hull as Dirk Kuyt scored twice on his 100th appearance. Chelsea remains six points off the lead after its 1-0 win at West Ham.

Spurs believed they were on course to end their 20-year wait for a win at Old Trafford when Bent and Modric both scored in a three-minute spell.

When Vedran Corluka crossed into the United box, defender Rio Ferdinand mistimed his header and the ball fell for Bent to fire home. United was again exposed on the right flank when Aaron Lennon swung over a cross beyond the defense, leaving Modric to chest down and send it into the net.

At halftime, Ferguson replaced Nani with Carlos Tevez, who faces an uncertain future when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

"Tevez changed the game because he started to press the defender and push more," Ronaldo said.

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