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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Liverpool condemns Baggies to relegation

LONDON (AP) Steven Gerrard scored the first and set up Dirk Kuyt for the second as Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on Sunday to relegate the Baggies from the Premier League, while Chelsea beat Blackburn 2-0.

News photo
Going down: West Brom's Chris Brunt reacts as his team is relegated from the Premier League following a loss to Liverpool at The Hawthorns on Sunday. AP PHOTO

Although the title race was out of reach after Manchester United clinched it on Saturday with a 0-0 draw with Arsenal, Liverpool sent out a full strength side at the Hawthorns and made it 12 victories in a row over West Brom as well as a club-record equalizing 13 away wins this season.

West Brom's 22nd defeat of the season means it remains last in the standings with 31 points and only one round of games to come next Sunday. The Baggies are relegated from the Premier League for the third time in seven seasons.

"I don't know how we didn't score today," said manager Tony Mowbray. "We created chances as we do every week but invariably the opposition take theirs.

"I feel as if we do give value for money most weeks, home and away. The supporters have been there before over the past seven or eight years, up and down and hopefully we can reward them next season with another promotion."

Nicolas Anelka joined Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the Premier League scoring list with 18 goals with Chelsea's second against Blackburn at Stamford Bridge.

The French striker collected a sideways pass from co-striker Didier Drogba to power home a low, right foot shot in the 59th minute.

Anelka also set up the first goal after four minutes with a cross that set up Florent Malouda for a long range header.

The victory means that Chelsea remains three points behind Liverpool and seven behind Manchester United. Throughout the second half, the Chelsea fans pleaded with Guus Hiddink to stay on as manager, the Dutchman having taken the job only until the end of the season before he returns to his full time role as coach of Russia.

"It was surprising for me because, first of all, I only had a short period here," Hiddink said. "I worked with a lot of joy with these players and enjoyed the support of the fans. I didn't expect (the reception) to be in this magnitude so I'm surprised and very grateful."

Celtic slips up

Glasgow Scotland AP Rangers took the upper hand in the Scottish title race Sunday after Celtic was held 0-0 by Hibernian to fall two points behind its Glasgow rival.

In the last round of matches next weekend, Rangers will be guaranteed the Scottish Premier League trophy with a victory at Dundee United. Celtic hosts Hearts.

Gary Caldwell and Scott McDonald missed good chances in the first half for Celtic after goalkeeper Artur Boruc had saved well from a Steven Fletcher overhead kick.

Wenger hints at Real

Paris AP Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that coaching Real Madrid would be "obviously interesting for any coach."

Florentino Perez announced his candidacy last week to become Madrid president for a second time in the club's elections in the offseason. He reportedly tried to sign Wenger during his first stint and has been linked again with the Arsenal manager.

"With Perez, the project will be obviously interesting for any coach," Wenger told French TV on Sunday. Asked whether he would be tempted, he replied: "I'm a coach."

Wenger, who says he will stay at Arsenal at least until his contract expires in 2011, wouldn't reveal if he'd been in contact with Perez.

"Allow me to remain discreet on that matter," Wenger said.

Hughes gets backing

MANCHESTER , England (AP) Manchester City owners have quashed speculation that Mark Hughes will be replaced as manager by saying he will stay on at the Premier League club for next season at least.

City has failed to make an impact in English football despite the vast wealth of its new owners from Abu Dhabi, leading to suggestions that the administration might look for another big name to help the club catch up with the traditional Premier League powerhouses.

"I have been surprised at all the speculation because I have always been consistent with everyone on the subject of the manager," Man City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said on Monday.

"Every time I have spoken I have said we have the highest confidence in Mark and I would like to reiterate that now. Mark will be our manager next season. Nothing has changed."

Redknapp wields ax

LONDON (AP) Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has criticized Roman Pavlyuchenko for his "disrespectful" reaction after being substituted during the Premier League match against Manchester City.

Pavlyuchenko was replaced in the 75th minute of Spurs' 2-1 win over Man City on Saturday. Redknapp waited on the touchline to shake his hand, but the Russia striker ignored him before walking straight down the tunnel at White Hart Lane.

"I don't like that," Redknapp said. "The fans pay their money to watch and when a player runs down the tunnel it's disrespectful."

Redknapp has also said that midfielder David Bentley is likely to leave the club in the offseason after only one season at Spurs.

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