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Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

Given rescues point as City draws again

LONDON (AP) Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given saved James McFadden's penalty in a 0-0 draw at Birmingham on Sunday for his team to climb two spots to fourth in the Premier League.

Man City's fourth draw in a row — but first 0-0 score in 55 games stretching back to March 2008 — gave Mark Hughes' team 19 points from 10 games with only one loss, fewer defeats than any other Premier League team.

City has a game in hand but is now eight points behind leader Chelsea and six back from defending champion Manchester United.

"It was the poorest we've played for some time," Man City manager Mark Hughes said. "I was expecting us to show more quality. We've picked up another point on our travels, which was our Achilles' heel last season. But we can play better than that."

Despite the big difference in their league positions, 14th-place Birmingham created far more chances with the visitors needing Given to be in top form to stay level.

The Ireland goalkeeper pushed a shot from Birmingham forward Christian Benitez on to the post in the ninth minute, and he tipped a rising shot from McFadden over the crossbar in the 27th.

Just before halftime, Given blocked a powerful drive from Lee Bowyer and grabbed the loose ball before another Birmingham player could force it home.

Birmingham had an even better chance to go ahead in the 55th minute after Nigel de Jong was judged to have handled the ball inside the area. But Given dived to his left to block McFadden's left-footed penalty kick.

Birmingham midfielder Barry Ferguson was sent off in the last of six minutes of added time for his second yellow card.

United eyes passage

MANCHESTER , England (AP) Injury-hit Manchester United can advance to the knockout round of the Champions League with a win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

If United does secure a spot in the next round, manager Alex Ferguson will be able to field weakened teams in the two remaining Group B matches and focus on winning a fourth straight Premier League title.

United leads the group with nine points from three matches, with Wolfsburg in second with four and CSKA a further point behind. Last-place Besiktas hosts Wolfsburg in Tuesday's other group match.

While Ferguson wants United to attack CSKA "with purpose" at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney may be missing from the strike force. The England international was absent from training Monday because wife Colleen is set to give birth to their first child.

Central defensive partners Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were also missing Monday after being ruled out of Saturday's victory over Blackburn in the Premier League with ankle injuries.

"A lot has been made about Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic being out, but when you have the backup of Jonny Evans and Wes Brown, it can't be bad," Ferguson said. "If you take Ferdinand and Vidic out then there aren't many partnerships in the Premier League better than Brown and Evans."

Atletico desperate

MADRID (AP) Chelsea can advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League with a win at Atletico Madrid, a team still looking for its first victory in this season's competition.

Chelsea leads Group D with nine points from three games, all won without conceding a goal. Atletico has only one point and has yet to score a goal in its three matches.

Coming off a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao, new Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores must find a solution to the Spanish club's woes before the team faces Real Madrid four days after Chelsea's visit.

Atletico has won only twice in 13 games this season and, although the chances are slight, a win against Chelsea could be significant.

"We're in a blocked phase but we're looking for new mechanisms. I see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Sanchez Flores, who was coach of Valencia in the 2007 quarterfinals when that team lost to Chelsea 3-2 on aggregate. "With two straight wins, which will come, the team will make a big jump forward."



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