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Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009

Man City draws, falls further back in race

LONDON (AP) Manchester City got a 1-1 draw at Wigan on Sunday yet fell further behind Manchester United in the Premier League standings.

News photo
Losing ground: Wigan's Mohamed Diame (right) battles Manchester City's Carlos Tevez during their match on Sunday at The DW Stadium in Wigan, England. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. AP PHOTO

After Charles N'Zogbia gave Wigan the lead in first half injury time, Martin Petrov tied it two minutes into the second half. City had to play the last 35 minutes with 10 men after fullback Pablo Zabaleta was sent off for a second yellow card.

City got a point and stayed fifth but is now five points behind leader Man United with a game in hand.

Despite seeing his side miss a chance to move up, City manager Mark Hughes showed he had the depth to deal with injuries to key players, such as strikers Robinho and Craig Bellamy and defender Kolo Toure.

"That's what we had to address in the closed season," said Hughes, whose club's wealthy owner, Sheik Mansour, has helped him strengthen the squad with more than $200 million.

"The depth of the squad in terms of numbers and quality wasn't correct and we have done really well in that regard. We have been able to bring in good quality players so that when one player has gone out of the team I can bring in quality to compensate."

In Sunday's other game, Blackburn came from behind to beat neighbor Burnley 3-2 in their first top flight league meeting in 43 years.

In Saturday's games, Manchester United regained top spot by beating neighbor Bolton 2-1 while Chelsea slipped to second after losing 2-1 at Aston Villa.

Villarreal hits bottom

MADRID (AP) Villarreal and Atletico Madrid's early season struggles continued as both sides crashed to defeat Sunday.

Antonio Ramirez scored a late winner as Xerez came from a goal down against Villarreal to win 2-1, while Atletico were thrashed 3-0 by Osasuna ahead of Wednesday's Champions League game against Chelsea.

Newly promoted Xerez's first win of the campaign moved it out of last place, now occupied by winless Villarreal, which is competing in the Europa League this season.

"It's unbelievable that we were so nervous," said under-fire Villarreal coach Ernesto Valverde. "There's tension, but we have to set the pace and go for the game. The team has to react and right now we're just thinking about carrying on working."

Robert Pires had put Villarreal in the lead after charging through midfield into the area and exchanging passes with Joseba Llorente, but the unmarked Mario Bermejo equalized in the 42nd minute by heading in a corner.

Nilmar hit the post with only the Xerez 'keeper to beat in the 75th and, four minutes later, Ramirez took advantage of a fumbled clearance by Lopez to lob the Villarreal goalkeeper, who could only waive his arms in frustration.

Sampdoria holds Inter

MILAN (AP) Sampdoria drew 1-1 at Lazio and missed a chance to tie Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A.

Giampaolo Pazzini gave Sampdoria the lead in the 40th minute, but Francelino Matuzalem equalized for Lazio two minutes later.

Inter leads the standings with 19 points following its 5-0 win over Genoa on Saturday. Sampdoria is second with 17, followed by Juventus and Fiorentina with 15 points each.

Playoff draws

ZURICH (AP) France will face Ireland in a two-leg playoff for a spot at next year's World Cup in South Africa, while Portugal was drawn Monday to play Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Also, Russia will face Slovenia and Greece will play Ukraine.

France got perhaps the toughest draw of the four seeded teams. It will travel to Dublin for the first leg and host the Irish for the crucial return.

Portugal, Russia and Greece must all play at home first before facing their lower-ranked opponents on the road.

The matches will be played Nov. 14 and 18.

The draw for the World Cup finals will be made on Dec. 4 in Cape Town. Next year's 32-nation tournament is scheduled for June 11-July 11.

Ishikawa hurts knee

Kyodo News

Midfielder Naohiro Ishikawa has been diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee, FC Tokyo said Monday.

It is unknown whether Ishikawa will be able to return to action before the end of the season.

Ishikawa sustained the injury in a collision with Kashiwa Reysol's Hidekazu Otani when he scored his 15th goal of the season in a 4-0 win at home on Saturday.

He shares the J. League lead in goals with Jubilo Iwata forward Ryoichi Maeda.

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